There has also been media coverage. Below is a quotation from Ranjini’s husband in an article appearing in The Age.
“We were happy and the kids were even happier … we wanted to start new life with hope. But now we are shocked…We are separated. There has been too much pain before. Are we going to be put through the same pain in Australia as well?”
For overseas readers, ASIO stands for Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. From the ASIO site:
ASIO’s main role is to gather information and produce intelligence that will enable it to warn the government about activities or situations that might endanger Australia’s national security.
In summary, Ranjini’s history in Australia (supplied to me) is as follows:
Ranjini & her sons arrived at Christmas Island in 2010.
They were sent to Leonora, a detention centre 300 kms north of Kalgoorlie in the deserts of WA.
In Dec 2010 or Jan 2011 they arrived at Inverbrackie Detention Centre (APOD).
In April 2011 they were sent to Brisbane under Community Detention.
In Sept 2011 Ranjini was accepted as a refugee by DIAC staff, pending ASIO’s security assessment.
In April 2012 Rangini & her sons moved to Melbourne where Ranjini married Ganesh on Easter Sunday.
On 10th May 2012 Ranjini & her sons were forced to fly to Sydney & placed in detention at Villawood Detention Centre (residential housing).
This family has experienced 5 types of detention and lived in 4 different detention centres.
In March 2011 at Inverbrackie Detention Centre they were introduced to ‘friendly visitors’ & a number of people supported them. Similarly when they were sent to Brisbane, Ranjini endeared herself to our fellow supporters there.
Now the ASIO security assessment is in and, it seems, is an adverse assessment. The basic problem is no-one other than ASIO knows what that assessment is (although there are “beliefs”, see below) and there is no right of appeal against the assessment, according to media articles and my friend’s document below.
Many Australians would be very keen to know exactly what the nature of the assessment is. One report states “it is believed ASIO found her former husband was a driver for Tamil Tiger separatists.”
The above article goes on to quote Julian Burnside:
Melbourne refugee advocate Julian Burnside said there was no effective review of ASIO assessments. ”The fact that a person has been adversely assessed by ASIO does not mean they are a terrorist. They may have had a cousin who was involved in people smuggling or some other relatively minor thing,” Mr Burnside said.
”They face the possibility of being in detention forever … What the government says is: ‘We will try and find another country’. They say to other countries: ‘Will you take this refugee from us, with an adverse security assessment?’ As you can imagine, that’s a hard sell.”
There has to be a better way. Here is a woman whose first husband was killed in 2006. Perhaps he was a driver for Tamil Tiger separatists: I personally fail to see how this precludes Ranjini from having the chance to build a new life. Ranjini may not even have had the right to choose her husband in the first place, yet she is to now be held accountable for his actions, IF the assessment is as believed?
What concerns me most is Julian’s statement, “there was no effective review of ASIO assessments.” It should concern all Australians, surely. What if this was you, your wife, your daughter, your sister or your mother? Would you no expect a right of appeal in such a country as Australia? I certainly would.
GetUp are also running a campaign: No Detention Without Appeal. Please visit their website for more information.
In Australia no person should be held indefinitely without charge, trial or appeal. Please ensure that ASIO findings can be appealed and independently reviewed.
Below is the plea for help I received. Please read the above two media articles and the plea below. If you can lend your voice to help this family and others in a similar situation, please do.
They have suffered enough.
I am not “blaming” either ASIO or DIAC for this situation. Clearly they are following current processes and procedures. My argument and the argument of many others is that we should change the system.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Supporters of Ranjini & her boys,
There are many people in SA, QLD & Vic who know Ranjini – either directly or as friends of Rangini’s friends.
We need your networks & we need to run a campaign to lobby PM Julia Gillard & Minister Chris Bowen.
When Inverbrackie Detention Centre (SA) opened in December 2010 I decided to introduce & connect ‘friendly visitors’ to the families in detention. Ranjini & her boys are well-known to many people in the Adelaide Hills & the wider Adelaide area. She is a very gentle person – & also a violinist & an artist. We found a donor for a violin & many people responded generously when we asked for art materials. The responses were very encouraging. While living in Brisbane & Melbourne she has kept in contact with a number of us through phone calls & emails.
Now we need another generous response – of a different kind.
Most of us are deeply worried by social justice issues around asylum seekers & refugees.
We have networks. We have family members. We have workmates & friends of friends who we can call upon to help Ranjini.
We all need to show the Government that we care about Ranjini & others in the same ‘indefinite detention’ situation & tell the Government that it needs to listen & act because we won’t go away.
Here in SA I am urging people & their friends to contact the Government in a constant & continuous campaign.
This campaign would raise Ranjini’s name to a “high profile” status in the offices of the only TWO people in Australia who can RELEASE RANGINI from DETENTION: Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Immigration Chris Bowen.
Minister Chris Bowen has the power to intervene in the processes which govern Ranjini’s status.
It’s called a Ministerial Intervention & is personally signed by him, based on advice from his office staff.
He can release Ranjini tomorrow if he decides to do so.
There is a precedent – people have lived in community although they have had an adverse ASIO assessment. Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Detention Network, March 2012.
Politely request that the Minister use his powers to intervene in this situation & release Ranjini & the boys back to their home in Melbourne.
So what we all need to do is commit to ALL of the simple actions below ….
1. Write letters to both the PM & Minister – fax your letters if possible for direct effect rather than wait for the letters to travel through the usual channels.
2. Email both the PM & Minister
3. Phone their offices & talk with their advisers.
Some advice …
Handwritten letters carry significantly more weight politically than emails – you can fax to the PM & Minister.
Please phone several times week for as long as it takes. Their office staff will tell you to write – they will say that they take more notice of letters, but do not let them fob you off. Your response is “Of course I will write / have written … but I want to tell you that …… “.
Keep talking politely – that way you can make them listen to you.
They might respond in a bland manner & want to hang up quickly.
Don’t let them, just keep talking & calmly reiterating your points.
No matter if they are irritated. The public service is a public service, & we pay their wages.
- Insist that you & many other voters care deeply about Rangini.
- That she & the boys are suffering psychologically by being removed from their home & father in such an awful ‘process’.
- After the first couple of calls to the offices you can say ” I have phoned (many times) before about Rangini, & I want you to know that I am still worried about her & the boys … I want to know what the PM/Minister is going to do to end this awful nightmare for this family” etc etc etc
- Tell the office staff that you know (from a reliable source – me) that the houses at Villawood are separately fenced off as a 2 acre (approx) site WITHIN the high security fenced boundaries of the major detention facility called Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (VIDC).
- That the families in the Villawood houses ARE NOT IN AN ALTERNATIVE PLACE OF DETENTION (APOD).
The boys can see the major detention facility from their front door because the houses are on a slope above & facing the main detention centre, less than 100 metres away.
I HAVE BEEN THERE NUMEROUS TIMES. I HAVE VISITED PEOPLE IN BOTH the main detention centre & the houses up the slope. It takes less than 2 minutes to walk from one place to the other.
- Remind the Minister’s office staff about some of the concerns highlighted in the recent release (March 2012) of the evidence gathered during the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Detention Network, especially
Chapter 5, p.103 – The Impact of Detention; p. 123 – Effects on children in detention
Chapter 6, p. 141 – The assessment process; p. 152 – security assessments; p. 158, 6.86.
p. 160, 6.101 “However, refugees with adverse security assessments do not have legal recourse to a review of this assessment. The impossible situation these people are in is perhaps one of the greatest challenges currently facing the immigration detention system.”
p. 162, 6.104 “There are currently, broadly speaking, two groups of people in prolonged detention: confirmed refugees who failed the security test and therefore cannot be released or returned to their country of origin and …”.
p. 162, 6.106 Refugees in indefinite detention. “In other instances, some refugees are being held in what amounts to indefinite detention. They have no prospect of release or deportation, and no legal right to a merit review of their adverse security assessment … “.
p. 166, 6.117 “The Committee sought evidence from ASIO concerning precedents for people with adverse security assessments being released into the community. The Committee noted one case in which a family had received an adverse assessment in 2002, but had since been released …”.
- Other relevant Treaties / Agreements relating to Human Rights are:
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
The International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR)
Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Minister Chris Bowen
Dept Immigration & Citizenship
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6277 7860
Fax: (02) 6273 4144
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Email on line
Please note the following:
- If you wish to receive a copy of your comments for your records along with a submission confirmation you will need to provide a valid email address.
- Once your views and suggestions have been carefully considered, you may receive a reply via Australia Post.
- Your comments may be more appropriately considered by a Federal Minister and therefore could be passed on for their attention.
Australia Post mail to:
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
You may also contact Attorney-General Nicola Roxon here.
- An appalling story. Is this really Australia 2012? (mamamia.com.au)
- Ranjini is a Security Risk for Australia, but the Government won’t tell her why (Colombo Telegraph)
- You may also send letters of support on http://lettersforranjini.com/about/