The agony of being in detention

Heartening gesture by Aboriginal community: Tamil refugee Kokilakumar Subramaniyam [left] with his brother Premakumar, 29, at Villawood Immigration Detention Facility. As a sign of support, the Aboriginal community gave both men honorary passports in May.
Heartening gesture by Aboriginal community: Tamil refugee Kokilakumar Subramaniyam [left] with his brother Premakumar, 29, at Villawood Immigration Detention Facility. As a sign of support, the Aboriginal community gave both men honorary passports in May.

ALL that 27-year-old Tamil refugee Kokilakumar Subramaniyam from Sri Lanka wants is to call Australia home.

Mr Subramaniyam has lived in Australia for three years, but for most of that time he has been in detention.

Refugee Action Coalition says Mr Subramaniyam is one of 33, including six children, who are being indefinitely detained at Villawood Immigration Detention Facility after they were denied permanent visas in Australia on ASIO security grounds.

Mr Subramaniyam says he can't fathom why he's stuck at Villawood indefinitely.

It's a far cry from the life he dreamt of when he arrived in Australia in 2009.

"When I came to Australia, people said to me 'welcome to Australia' and I felt like a lucky man," he said. "I didn't want to leave my country in Sri Lanka but I wasn't safe there. But I'm not safe now. I don't like this kind of world. I am very, very upset."

Mr Subramaniyam and his brother were issued with honorary passports from the Aboriginal community in May as a sign of support.

But for Mr Subramaniyam, who's been at Villawood for over a year, questions remained unanswered as ASIO gave him and his brother negative assessments without explanation.

"It's so unfair and I don't know why," he said.

"I'm not a poor person and I'm not an idiot. I lived in Sri Lanka because I was born there.

"I also studied there. But I came to this country because I was fearing for my life."

A Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokeswoman said: 'These are complex cases. The government cannot compromise on matters of national security where people have been found by ASIO to be a risk to the Australian community.

"We ensure appropriate arrangements are in place for the care and support of people detained due to an adverse security assessment."

The indefinite detention of "ASIO negative" refugees is the subject of a complaint to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Australian government has until July to respond to the complaint.