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The Biloela Family Give First, Heartbreaking Interview About Their Fears Of Deportation To Sri Lanka

“We beg the minister to consider our children’s future, and let us live safely.”

It has been only two months since the Biloela family were granted only three bridging visas, but their chance to live and work safely in Australia is set to expire, ripping freedom away from them as soon as next month.

In their first ever interview, Priya and Nades Murugappan sat down with Waleed Aly for The Project to discuss their fears for the fate of their family, and what will happen to their daughters if they are sent back to Sri Lanka.

As a reminder, Priya and Nades separately fled to Australia by boat in 2012 and 2013, before meeting, marrying and settling down in the regional Queensland town of Biloela. Come March 2018, the couple were put on a flight back to Sri Lanka. However, halfway through their journey, an interim injunction was granted by a judge, which prevented the family from leaving the country. 

Since then, they were sent to live in detention on Christmas Island as lengthy and complicated court proceedings have ensued based around daughter Tharnicaa’s visa eligibility, as well as the tireless efforts by their town of Biloela to ensure the family’s return to their Queensland community.

In June 2021, Tharunicaa was evacuated to a Perth hospital and required immediate medical care for an undiagnosed blood infection following untreated pneumonia while stranded on Christmas Island.

Despite being granted bridging visas, the Murugappan family were only given three: one for Nades, one for Priya and another for Kopika. These new permissions allowed Nades and Priya to head back to work and support their family, while Kopika was allowed to attend school, all while Tharnicaa’s fate was left unknown as she received ongoing medical treatment.

As for their first interview, it began by showing Kopika and Tharnicaa, sweetly playing in a park and calling out to each other. Prior to speaking to Priya and Nades, Waleed chose spoke to the sisters, asking them: “Can you tell me what Christmas Island is like?”

“I don’t like [it],” Kopika said, going sombrely quiet right after. 

“What don’t you like about it?” Waleed asked, to which Kopika, replied: “No friends.”

Then heading off to speak with Priya and Nades separately, Waleed questioned Priya, asking her if she’s worried that herself and her family will be sent back to detention soon.

I don’t sleep in the nighttime,” she said. “It’s very hard.”

The mother of two then shared her concerns for the grim and tragic future for her family if they are forcefully deported by the Australian government. She admitted that while she was worried about being killed, both she and Nades expressed their foremost concern for their daughters’ fate before their own, pleading for their children’s lives.

“I’m not worried about the two of us. We have lived,” Nades tragically admitted, adding, “We beg the minister to consider our children’s future, and let us live safely.”

Closing out the interview, The Project co-host, Lisa Wilkinson, summarised the horrific ordeals that the Biloela family have endured perfectly, saying: “It looks to me like they’re just political footballs, not human beings any more.”

Here’s hoping that the Australian Government gets its act together and sees Priya, Nada, Kopika and Tharnicaa as the strong and worthwhile members of our community that they are—because they’re people, not just numbers on a page.

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