Free refugee Leela Krishna now
Leela Krishna is a gay Tamil from Sri Lanka. He has been behind barbed wire in Australia’s concentration camps (euphemistically called detention centres) since fleeing Sri Lanka and making his way by boat to Australia one year ago. In April this year Immigration found him to be a refugee.
Yet Leela, who is suicidal because of his imprisonment and rough treatment, remains locked up. ASIO is conducting ‘security checks’. These can take up to 16 months.
These ’security checks’ are a deliberate Government ploy to keep refugees locked up and send a message to others fleeing the wars we support or impose. Don’t bother. We will imprison you even if your case is legitimate (which the overwhelming majority are even on the strict criteria Australia imposes).
Immigration moved him from Villawood detention centre in Sydney to Maribyrnong in Melbourne a few weeks ago. This has put further pressure on his mental state and removed him from his know and trusted supporters and visitors in Sydney.
Melbourne Queer and refugee activists have rallied to support Leela.
In the US Tyler Clementi, a gay man, committed suicide after his room mates published footage of him kissing another man. In Australia state sanctioned homophobia locks up a gay man for no crime other than being a refugee and undermines his fragile mental state.
Gillard already has asylum seeker blood on her hands. Last week Fijian man Josefa Rauluni committed suicide rather than be sent back to persecution by the dictatorship in Fiji. Don’t let Gillard get away with more.
Leela began a dry hunger strike – no food or water - on Friday to highlight his plight. This could end tomorrow before Leela suffers more damage to his physical and mental health if Julia Gillard and the rest of the reactionaries in this racist Labor Government freed him immediately.
Let’s be clear about this. A man who has committed no crime but is in fact a refugee is still locked up. This is the inhumanity that passes for our refugee policy. It is an inhumanity that Julia Gillard and her Labor Government pursue ruthlessly because they think it is electorally popular.
There is no case for locking up asylum seekers. There is definitely no case for locking up those asylum seekers found to be refugees. Instead of relying on ASIO and its corrupt assessment practices, release Leela into the care of the community immediately.
Leela needs help, not barbed wire. Leela needs freedom, not prison.
There will be demonstrations around Australia for refugees on the weekend of 23 October. Join us in condemning the Australian Government’s barbarous treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and commemorating the SIEV X tragedy.
I would add one sombre note. October 23 might be too late for Leela – the damage he may have suffered by then could be irreparable.
That is why Melbourne activists have called an emergency protest in support of Leela for 2 pm outside Maribyrnong this Sunday (3 October). Be there if you can.