I am a lucky parent today.
Today, I know where my three-year-old is and I know that he is happy and well looked after.
But not every parent has that luxury.
The father of this little three-year-old girl, Febrina, doesn’t know where she is today. In fact, he hasn’t known where she is for 10 days now. He doesn’t know if she’s happy or well looked after. He doesn’t know that she’s warm enough or getting enough to eat.
Febrina is one of 153 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka that disappeared 10 days ago, asylum seekers that the Government is refusing to tell us what has happened to and where they are. They are refusing to tell us whether or not they plan to hand these people back to the Sri Lankan Government as they have with 41 asylum seekers over the last weekend.
Febrina was not born in Sri Lanka. Febrina was born in a refugee camp in South India. Her parents fled the violence of their home country many years ago after they were suspected of being supportive of the Tamil cause. It is a matter of fact that there have been serious human rights abuses and persecution of the Sri Lankan people in recent years.
Two weeks ago, Febrina and her mother got on a boat to attempt the treacherous journey to Australia. As far as we know they were intercepted at sea by Australian forces. Beyond that, we know nothing else. We know nothing because our Government is refusing to release information about their whereabouts, whether or not their asylum seekers claims have been processed, indeed, whether or not they are still alive.
Febrina’s father said to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre “I want to plead with the Australian minister to stop our pain and let us know what he has done with all the kids and families on the boat. I ask him to be kind to these people. They are all very frightened. They cannot be sent back to Sri Lanka. Many of them will be tortured again and even killed.”