By Jane Lee /Sydney Morning Herald –
A Melbourne man says he was only given five minutes to farewell his family before they were detained at Villawood in Sydney indefinitely.
Ganesh and Sri Lankan refugee Ranjini got married last month with the approval of the Department of Immigration.
Hoping to start a new life together, they enrolled Ranjini’s two sons, now aged six and eight, into Mill Park Primary School.
But the newlyweds’ happiness was short-lived.
On Thursday, they were asked to attend a meeting with immigration officials.
“In the meeting, they said that Ranjini has got an adverse security assessment. I was allowed only five minutes to chat with them and they were taken away,” Ganesh said in a statement.
“We were happy and the kids were even happier … we wanted to start new life with hope. But now we are shocked…We are separated. There has been too much pain before. Are we going to be put through the same pain in Australia as well?”
Ranjini’s first husband was killed in Sri Lanka in 2006. She and her children arrived in Australia on Christmas Island in 2010 and spent the next two years in several detention facilities all over Australia.
They were moved from Christmas Island to Leonora in Western Australia, then to Inverbrackie in South Australia in 2011, and months later to community detention in Brisbane.
Ranjini met Ganesh while he was in Brisbane on holiday late last year, and moved to Melbourne to marry him earlier this year.
She and her sons were finally granted refugee status last September, pending ASIO’s security assessment. It was the final hurdle which, if cleared, would have paved the way for the family to obtain visas enabling them to stay in Australia.
Pam Nielsen first met Ranjini as a visitor at Inverbrackie. Ms Nielsen, an art teacher, drew, painted and chatted with her there.
“It released the headaches and the stress and the sleepless nights and the uncertainty,” she said.
“Each time I’d visit her she’d get a little bit more hope up. She’d say to me ‘next month they’ll tell me (if I’ve been granted refugee status).
“She’s a little tiny thing but she’s got the biggest smile and considering everything, she’d always have this big smile.
“I’d go and visit her and all she wanted to do was cook me food, she’d want to please me even though she was in a terrible situation. She’s a gorgeous, kind gentle little lady.”
Ms Nielsen said Ranjini’s children were “amazingly resilient” despite their ordeal.
She attended Ranjini and Ganesh’s wedding last month in Melbourne.
“It was so nice to see her finally happy and (feeling) some contentment. The boys were looking forward to school. When I left Melbourne I thought this was wonderful. Five years in the making.”
Ranjini had hoped to one day attend art school, she said.
Ganesh, who works in Melbourne, flew to Sydney on Friday to see his family. He sent Ms Nielsen a text message to let her know they were “okay,” she said.
“He said in the text ‘I don’t understand why’.”
Department of Immigration spokesman Sandi Logan said the family is currently detained at Villawood’s Sydney Immigration Residential Housing facility.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/wife-children-detained-as-asio-splits-newlyweds-20120512-1yjdw.html#ixzz1uwpxpIES