Hundreds of Australians rally against deportation of Tamil family
SYDNEY: Hundreds of Australians joined rallies yesterday urging the government not to deport a Tamil family of four - including two Australian-born toddlers aged four and two - whose case has become a new flashpoint over immigration policy.
The family - who are fighting to remain in Australia because they fear persecution in Sri Lanka - were moved to the Christmas Island detention facility overnight on Saturday after a judge blocked a government attempt to deport them.
With an injunction on further government action due to expire on Wednesday, Australians gathered in cities and towns across the country to oppose their deportation, many of them chanting "let them stay".
In Melbourne, where the family spent almost 18 months in detention, up to a thousand people turned out; while in Sydney, police estimated the crowd size at approximately 600 people.
The family has received broad public support, led by their neighbours in a rural Queensland town, including unexpected backing from right-wing commentators and politicians.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said he had raised the case directly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging him to "listen to what the community is saying and saying so strongly".
"This is publicly funded cruelty on behalf of a government that really has lost touch and has lost its way," he told reporters in Sydney. "We can have, very clearly, strong borders without losing our humanity."
The conservative government's hardline immigration policies include turning away refugees arriving by boat and de facto offshore detention, both measures condemned by the United Nations. - AFP