A TAMIL asylum-seeker accused of links with the vanquished Tamil Tigers has been deported, despite being the subject of an appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and a pending High Court judgment that could have had an impact on his appeal rights.
Dayan Anthony was taken from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne yesterday and put on a flight to Bangkok at 2.35pm, while refugee advocates scrambled unsuccessfully to get an urgent court hearing.
His distraught Melbourne-based brother-in-law told The Australian he desperately feared for Mr Anthony's safety after he is handed over to Sri Lankan authorities in Colombo as early as this morning.
Mr Anthony, 30, is believed to be the subject of a February 2011 arrest warrant for alleged "involvement in LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) activities".
A copy of the arrest warrant and the Immigration Department's letter of deportation was published on a Tamil news website, sighted by The Australian, a few days ago.
It also published details of his arrest by the Sri Lankan army in May 2009 at Mullivaikkal in the country's north -- the scene of the last, bloody battle between the rebels and army.
The warrant was issued in Mr Anthony's absence by the Colombo Police Criminal Investigation Department.
His brother-in-law told The Australian yesterday neither Mr Anthony nor his family knew what the charges were, but that he had been picked up in 2009 from the southern village of Negombo -- from where he ran a small textiles business -- in one of Sri Lanka's notorious white vans, then tortured and badly beaten.
Tamil news website Varudal, however, reported Mr Anthony was a purchasing officer for an LTTE-owned textiles business and was arrested in Mullivaikkal, where many civilians were caught and killed in crossfire.
It is Mr Anthony's evidence on the use of torture in Sri Lanka before a special UN committee last year for which he could face serious repercussions.
"I am really worried that they're going to take him and give him to the same people that hurt him the first time," his brother-in-law said yesterday.
"All our family (in Sri Lanka) are scared to go and check (what the charges are) but we know it's under the terrorism act. They're worried they will be targeted."
Mr Anthony arrived by air in Australia in early 2010 and immediately sought asylum. Eight months later he was released into his sister and brother-in-law's custody. His family say he has intermittently received medical attention for serious physical injuries and mental health issues.
"After he was tortured he was no longer a fit person. So when he said the government was going to send him back I said 'don't talk rubbish'. I didn't believe him," the brother-in-law said as he choked back sobs yesterday.
While a full report on Mr Anthony's mental condition was given to the Immigration Department, his family now believes the Australian government was determined to make an example of him to deter asylum-seekers.
The family and refugee advocates have accused the government of stymieing last-ditch attempts to prevent Mr Anthony's deportation.
The Tamil man had been trying since Monday to fax documents and authorisation to a Sydney barrister in order to join a High Court class action against the government that would have stayed his deportation.
But his family says he was unable to send them because he was told the Maribyrnong Detention Centre fax was broken.
"We are bitterly disappointed the government has taken this measure," Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said. "It has really been an underhand action by the government.
"They know that there is a High Court action that would have potentially prevented this removal and they have done everything they can to make it impossible for this removal to be challenged in court."
He said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen "well knows that other Sri Lankans who have been forcibly sent back to Sri Lanka have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned".
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