"I'm so glad I know where my 3-year-old is today."

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.”


Last night the High Court of Australia placed an injunction on the handing over of the 153 to Sri Lanka, and they will hear the matter in full later this afternoon.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre says that Febrina is just one of 37 children that are included in the missing 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers. They include Eela Nila 10 months old, Rupan 5 years old, Dessane 7 years old, Nagul 5 years old, Jeevan 5 years old, Saran 12 years old, Poorvika 8 years old and Sureka 7 years old.

These are the innocent children at the mercy of the political games being hashed out in Canberra.

These are the innocent lives for whom hope is barely within grasp.

These are the innocent faces for whom kindness and basic human dignity is denied by our Government on behalf of every Australian.

These are the innocent faces that look no different from the innocent faces of every Australian child.

I look into the eyes of this child, Febrina, and she is no difference from my own child. These eyes, they hold the same potential for offering something to their communities. They hold the same potential for the future. They hold same potential for love. They hold the same tug on my heart as the eyes of my child.

Make no mistake. What the Government has done to Febrina and her 152 travelling companions is an outright travesty.

If the price of protecting our borders is to destroy the lives and potential of children like Febrina, it is a price I am not willing to pay.

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