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Edmund Rice Centre supports mother who fears son will be 'recruited'

A Melbourne mother from Sri Lanka fears her 16-year-old son will be forcibly taken and made to fight with the Tamil Tigers if the family is returned to Sri Lanka.

The Age reports today that Sornawathy Meadows, of Tamil background, said her son Sharon had lived in Australia since he was seven and now spoke no Sinhalese, which meant he could be suspected of being "a Tamil terrorist".

Her claim that the year 10 Hampton Park Secondary College student risked being "recruited" by the insurgency fighters was backed by Phil Glendenning who has researched Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) recruitment for the Christian Brothers' Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney.

The Meadows had been on renewable bridging visas, but the Immigration Department demanded they produce airline tickets and leave by 16 October.

"I am scared because I am the exact age for them to take me into the LTTE," Sharon said.

Mrs Meadows said: "He will go as dice meat" (a reference to bodies of LTTE insurgents found chopped up).

Mr Glendenning, who visited Sri Lanka to prepare his report, said he was aware of attempts by the Tamil Tigers to forcibly recruit young Sri Lankans returned from detention in Australia.

"We would be very concerned about people being sent back, particularly young people who would be under pressure from both sides," he said. "There is still trouble simmering below the surface. There are still people being killed."

Mrs Meadows' husband, John was forced to leave Australia in July after he was detained by immigration officers for breaching his bridging visa conditions by working as a storeman.

She said her husband's right to work was automatically forfeited once the family took Federal Court action over the rejection of their permanent protection claim.

An Immigration Department spokesman said people, such as the Meadows, repeatedly found not to be owed protection were expected to return home. The Government had sought new information on Sri Lanka.

Mother fears son will be 'recruited' (The Age 27/9/04)

Mexican Bishops Criticize Use of Rubber Bullets on Immigrants (Zenit 24/9/04)
Edmund Rice Centre

27 Sep 2004