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Refugee released from detention


A Sri Lankan refugee who spent the last 11 years in detention has been given a visa and freed from detention following a campaign led by a South Australian Sister of Mercy.

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Sr Elizabeth Young, who now lives in Forbes, NSW, said “we are thanking God for some very good news”.

She thanked the 25,000 people who signed a petition calling on the Immigration Department to release him.

Alex (not his real name,) also wrote a message of thanks:

Dear Australians, By the will of God and your support, I got the visa and am now, finally, a free man. I am forever indebted to you all. At this moment I am reminded of the words of God. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

Special thanks to Sr Elizabeth, who started the petition. I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my lawyer, Ms. Sanmati Verma, and her legal team: Bethany Rose, Guy Gilbert and Anthony Krohn, who appeared for me in the case. To Claudia Graham and Dianne Reynolds, who assisted me and my family in so many ways. And to (Acting Immigration) Minister Alan Tudge, and to all those who signed the petition and encouraged me in many ways.

May God bless you all! God bless!

Sr Elizabeth said Alex had been detained by the Government for 11 years and 5 months, or 4179 days.

“Throughout this time, his supporters and I have been privileged to know Alex; he is so incredible to have survived all of this,” she said.

“We have seen his strength of character, and faith in God and the goodness of people through such a trial.”

Of Singhalese ethnicity and Catholic religion, Alex fled his country at the height of a civil war when he was 29.

He was imprisoned for people smuggling and despite his conviction being overturned by the Court of Appeal in Western Australia, he was detained in a number of centres on the mainland and on Christmas Island.

After applying for a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa Alex was recognised as a refugee in 2017, however, in May 2019 Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton personally refused his application.


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