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All alone in Australia

This month read about the story of Alaghun* who is in his 5th year at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre. Act for Peace, with your generous support, assists the work of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) to offer a strong Christian voice in the debate about refugees and asylum seekers.

Alaghun was on a boat, much like this vessel to come to Australia Image Frame

I want to share with you the story of 24 year old Alaghun* who is in his 5th year at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre. Act for Peace, with your generous support, assists the work of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT). The ACRT seeks to offer a strong Christian moral voice at a time when debate about refugees and asylum seekers is often heated and hostile.

Alaghun is originally from Sri Lanka and, at the time of his 18th birthday, lived in a Tamil refugee camp in Southern India with his family. While there, he was separated from his family due to a family illness. He worked with camp authorities to locate his family so he could reunite with them. He eventually found out that they had left the camp and had made it back home safely - so he, too, returned.

The local militia noticed Alaghun’s homecoming. They were wary of young men returning from Southern India and so soldiers paid the family a visit and asked to see all their identification papers. As Alaghun had only just come back from the refugee camps in India he had no identification documents. The soldiers questioned him in Sinhalese, but as he only spoke Tamil he was unable to defend himself. The soldiers took Alaghun away from his family and home and beat him in the local jail. There he stayed for some weeks until his case was put before the local military commander.

“He was unable to defend himself”

The commander decided that Alaghun would not return to his family but go back to Southern India, to the camps. The commander warned him that if he should try to go home,
he would be killed by the military or ‘disappear as easily as a street dog.’ And so Alaghun was transported to Southern India and has not seen his family again.

All alone with no family or friends - and no hope of returning home - Alaghun sought to leave the refugee camp and find a better life. That was more than 5 years ago and he has been in detention since he first sought asylum in Australia.

With your support, the ACRT through the “Australia’s Guantanamo” initiative will help to bring Alaghun and others seeking asylum in Australia one step closer to realising a new and safer life.

- Misha - ACRT

* Names have been changed to protect identities

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The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) was established by Act for Peace in 2012 to promote a shared Christian vision of compassion and hospitality for asylum seekers and refugees. The churches and their agencies work together to advocate for just and humane policies. It has a 21 member Board with senior members from nine Australian Christian churches.

The ACRT asks its supporters to step back from the prevailing toxic politics of the broader asylum seeker debate and draw guidance from our identity as disciples.

Part of the work of the ACRT that your gifts support is an initiative called “Australia’s Guantanamo.” The goal of this project is to ensure the release of 44 men, women and children - who have already been classified as refugees - out of closed detention into a community detention facility while they await the outcome of their protection visa. Alaghun, whose story is told in this PeaceMail, is one of these 44.

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