16 Jul 2013

An Open Letter From Detention

By Rose Iser
Sasikanthan Shanmugarayah
Sasikanthan Shanmugarayah

Sasikanthan Shanmugarayah received a negative ASIO security assessment when he applied for asylum. Sasi tells his story in this open letter - with an introduction from advocate Rose Iser

A life sentence is a punishment worse than death, according to Sasikanthan Shanmugarayah, a refugee locked away as a security threat for over three years. Without a clear understanding of the reasons for his imprisonment and no appeal rights, he is suffering mentally and physically.

Fifty men and two women are detained indefinitely. Sasi is one of them. Fairfax today reported on the summary of reasons he received from the Independent Reviewer, Margaret Stone, for upholding his negative assessment. Stone's report does not elucidate the nature of the security threat he is said to pose.

Over the past two years, I have regularly counselled Sasi out of committing self-harm and suicide. Watching him struggle against hopelessness and self-loathing is challenging.

He has been in detention since December 2009. He is a Tamil and has been accused of being a member of the Tamil Tigers and participating in battles. He has been assessed by ASIO as being "likely to engage in acts prejudicial to Australia's security".

He has repeatedly stated that he was not a voluntary participant with the Tamil Tigers, but for six months as a 17 year old in 1999, was coerced into participating in activities that amounted to little more than cadet training that might take place at Scotch College in Melbourne today.

He has stated he did not participate in any battles, but that he was ordered to clean up battle sites and attend to wounded fighters. He explained that he left the area to pursue his studies in Colombo and continued to be harassed by Tamil Tigers. He left Sri Lanka in 2005.

Australia’s policy of keeping him in detention carries no logic. He is a refugee. He is accused of being "likely to engage in acts prejudicial to Australia's security". This allegation has not been tried and tested before a court, and is based on an unsigned report with allegations he refutes.

He has asked me to convey this letter to you.

Dear Australians


I am writing to you for your support to try and find a way to have me released from detention that seems ‘an endless road to freedom'.

To assist you to understand my situation, I will endeavour to summarise, what my life has been in detention.

At first I was assessed by ASIO as a "security risk" without them interviewing me. My lawyers have been working through this, with ASIO interviewing me. I believe extensive investigations had been made in Sri Lanka, but I did not receive any advice from ASIO about their findings.

On Thursday, 13 June 2013, the Government's Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments, Margaret Stone, advised me, that my case will be reviewed after 12 months, as I had not met the requirements for a clear security assessment.

In 2006, the UNHCR whilst in Indonesia assessed me to be a refugee, and in 2009 I was assessed to be a refugee by the Australian Government. In December 2009, I was one of the asylum seekers that was a passenger on the "Oceanic Viking", attempting to come to Australia. On 29 December 2009, I was granted a "Special Purpose Visa" by the Australian Immigration and flown to Christmas Island. The promise reads as follows:

"The Australian Government guarantees that if you are mandated as a refugee, or become mandated as a refugee, you will be resettled in Australia or another resettlement country. Since UNHCR has found you to be a refugee, you will be resettled within 4-6 weeks from the time you disembark the vessel. Australian officials will assist you to be resettled." Australian Embassy, Jakarta, 13 November 2009.

I have been in detention for three years and eight months. All these years, I have lived in the hope that the Australian Government will give me the opportunity to start a new life in Australia.

Whilst in detention I have been trying to improve my English to be an interpreter, in the hope that I would have good news, to start a new life in supporting myself and undertake further study in science, if given the opportunity. When I left Indonesia my beloved daughter was only nine months, now she is four years and six months.

Fellow Australians think that I am resilient, but at some stage, there is a breaking point. I might appear strong, but within I am beginning to crumble.

I want to be a proud citizen of Australia and to give my beloved daughter the opportunity to live in peace. I will use my skills for the benefit of Australia, a country that I have come to love, having met so many generous Australian citizens, and my fellow colleagues in detention. It is your support that has given me hope to live, and believe that one day I will have freedom.

Yours truly,

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Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 14:40

Australia has become more and more facist towards refugees since the TAMPA but the ALP started this sort of racist facism with the Cambodians in the 1980's when they made the dirty deal with Thatcher and Reagan to make the Khmer Rouge into good folk instead of mass murderers.

Posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 00:44

If Mr Shanmugarayah is free to return to Sri Lanka, or to any other part of the world that will take him, then he is not locked up. He has food, shelter and safety.

I want Rose Iser and MarilynJs to state how many immigrants from fast breeding countries they want Australia to resettle, and also, how they propose to prevent 10 million genuine refugees from multiplying into 20 million.

Bringing refugees into Australia is pointless, and destructive to our environment and our way of life. Those left out just breed more refugees.

Posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 14:41

Earth Fan - well said.  We cannot accommodate everyone who wants to have a so-called better life, nor can any other country.

There are no vacant places left on the planet.   It is time that we address the situation in situ.  Family planning and emancipation are good starts.

There are also some societies where the men have to learn that the tribal bull-in-the-paddock type of breeding  (how many women can I impregnate!) is unsuitable for the 21st century.

Posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 17:21

Marga, aren't you a delight.  I don't think jailing this one man will stop the world's population from exploding though do you?



Posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 23:37

So, MarilynJs: Does your post mean that you only want to admit one man to Australia? And why this particular man? No one is jailing him.

Please answer my question.

Posted Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 17:00

EarthFan - 'Those left out just breed more refugees'

I'd like to see you tell that to Miss Chu.  If you don't know who she is, then go find out. 

Or, perhaps, to my Croatian partners parents who came here as refugees during the Yugoslavian war, and whose children, funnily enough, are now English and history teachers in private schools.  Oh the irony!  

...Or how about to my brothers girlfriend, whose parents were Tamil and persecuted, who is about to become a Science teacher?  

I could go on.... but I rather think its wasted on you. 

Now, here's a thought, maybe these 'refugees who breed refugees' could give you a little bit of a history lesson!  

Posted Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 21:04

MarilynJs if u disagree with Marge and I don't then how about some facts.


let me start, I learned the other day, trying to remember which video, that 380 million Yanks only take up 3.5% of all the Land mass. apparently its all the farms that have grabbed the land.


And if the farms then why. Do we need that much food and can we do it better.


How full is the planet, really. 7 Billion and counting.

Lets do some fact finding. Is it time Australia went high rise instead of idiot 1/4 acre bulshit castles.


Maybe this  has some answers:



Posted Friday, July 19, 2013 - 04:47


 We cannot accommodate everyone who wants to have a so-called better life, nor can any other country.


Maybe we should say  We cannot expect Australians to move side ways, give up their dreams and their future to give jobs and accomodation to everyone who wants to have a so-called better life, nor can any other country.


MarilynJs are u a Kiwi, because its easy to be compassionate with someone elses livelyhood and land.

The boaties are not the only Economic arrivals.

There is also the Kiwi's, Irish and Poms etc...yet the Hoha is about boaties. So it makes me wonder wether all the Anti Boaty Refugee crowd are in fact these 3 groupings passing themselves off as concerned Aussie's yet are infact people competing with Refugee's and Aussies for scarce Jobs and accomadation.   

As Aussies we need to be aware that others might be trying to make us look like racists for their own benefit at our expense.

People posting here are just names, you can't tell who they are.

We need arrival figures for the rest as well Marylin so that we can gauge the total impact of all of these arrivals on Australias condition.

The singular minded, blinkered, tunnel vision of people here concerns me. The rest of the Nation is not like Co2, invisible, you can not expect all to care if u are selective in your caring yourself.