Tamil asylum seeker's grieving family unable to attend funeral
Refugee council says Leo Seemanpillai’s parents, who live in an Indian refugee camp, have been 'blocked at every turning'
Oliver Laughland theguardian.com June 16, 2014
A shrine to Leo Seemanpiallai, the Tamil refugee who killed himself in Geelong, Australia. Photograph: Christian Bennett for the Guardian
The grieving family of Leo Seemanpillai, a Tamil asylum seeker who took his own life by self-immolating earlier in the month, say they will be unable to attend his funeral in Geelong after the Immigration Department and the Australian High Commission in India refused to help them or grant them a visa.
Seemanpillai’s parents, who have lived in a refugee camp in Tamil Nadu for over two decades, do not possess travel documents and, according to the Tamil Refugee Council in Melbourne, were ‘blocked at every turning’ in their requests for assistance to come to Australia for their son’s funeral.
According to Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam, who is in close contact with the family, Seemanpillai’s parents contacted the Australian High Commission in Chennai and were told to obtain temporary passports from the Sri Lankan High Commission, who would not grant them unless the family applied for the documents in Sri Lanka.
Seemanpillai’s brother, who does possess a passport, applied for a visa with the Australian High Commission, but was refused as the Australian government did not believe he would stay in Australia temporarily……….
The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, had offered to return Seemanpillai’s body for burial in Sri Lanka or India, but his parents had rejected the offer, stating they feared for their safety if the funeral was held in either country……..
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