Turnbull Government urged to reunite families torn apart by offshore detention

Turnbull Government urged to reunite families torn apart by offshore detention

The daughter of a man being held indefinitely on Manus Island, despite being found to be a refugee, traveled to Canberra to ask politicians to reunite her family, who have been separated for three and a half years by the government’s offshore detention policies.

Daniel Webb, the Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, traveled to Canberra with Zaharah*, the daughter of Nayser Ahmed. Nayser and his family fled Burma together in 2013 but arrived in Australia on different dates. So, while his wife and children are rebuilding their lives in the community in Sydney, Nayser has spent the last three and half years in limbo on Manus Island.

Zaharah* took two days away from studying for her HSC exams to personally ask politicians from all sides of politics to finally bring her father to Australia to be with the rest of the family.

“I felt a bit nervous about meeting the politicians. But I really wanted to tell them about my situation. I really wanted to ask them to bring my dad here,” said Zaharah.

“I miss dad the most at dinner time. We would always eat dinner together as a family – we rarely missed one for as long as I can remember. Now, dinner time is hard.”

“I really hope they decide to bring my dad here. He’s missed my little brother’s first day of school in Australia. He has a little granddaughter who was born in Sydney that he hasn’t been able to meet yet. I hope they bring my dad here soon.”

Mr Webb said that while details about the US refugee deal remain sketchy, it is clear the deal does not cover Nayser’s wife and children or the small number of other families split between offshore detention centres and Australia.

“The futures of these families are in Malcolm Turnbull’s hands, not Donald Trump’s,” said Mr Webb.

“Our government has a decision to make. It can needlessly rip apart families. Or it can do the sensible and compassionate thing and allow these families to be back together,” said Mr Webb.

“We know the politics around this is complex. But this is painfully simple. Nayser’s kids need to be with their father and Nayser needs to be with his wife and children. Our government has the power to make that happen tomorrow.”

The visit coincided with new polling revealing 70 percent of Australians believe that families split between Australia and detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru should be reunited in Australia.

For further comments or queries please contact:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519

* Name has been changed

Photo: Matthew Abbott