Australian Activist Deported From Singapore

By webadmin on 07:43 pm Dec 18, 2012
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Singapore. An 81-year-old Australian human rights activist has accused Singapore authorities of holding him in a cell without food, drink or toilet facilities for nearly five hours before deporting him.

Brian Senewiratne, a long-time critic of Colombo over its treatment of Tamils, told AFP on Tuesday that he flew to Singapore on Dec. 14 en route to Malaysia to give talks on the plight of refugees from Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

Senewiratne said when he reached immigration, he was led to a “10-foot-by-10-foot” room where he waited for four and a half hours without basic facilities before being placed on a return flight to Brisbane.

“They [immigration officers] didn’t let me use my mobile phone. Then I said let me at least get the number of the people who are waiting for me in Singapore. They said no you can’t switch on your computer,” Senewiratne said.

“So I had no computer, no passport and no mobile phone,” the doctor added.

Senewiratne said an officer had told him before he was led under police escort to the plane, “You came from Brisbane and to Brisbane you will go, you are being deported under armed guard.”

In an e-mailed reply to AFP queries, the ICA said it had conducted an investigation of the incident and “found Dr. Brian Senewiratne’s account of his experience at Singapore’s Changi Airport to be untrue.”

ICA “issued him with a Notice of Refusal of Entry within two and a half hours of his arrival,” the agency stated.

“At no time did he request food, water or access to use toilet facilities, which would not have been denied to him if requested.”

Senewiratne said he was contemplating legal action against Singapore authorities regarding his treatment and deportation, and would write to Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr to complain.

More than 16,770 boatpeople have arrived in Australia in 2012, with Sri Lankans making up the biggest group, accounting for more than 6,360.

Singapore had in November deported another Australian, clergyman James Blundell Minchin, for “interfering in… domestic politics.”

Minchin had shortly before his deportation given an interview to a Singapore opposition party where he discussed his book “No Man Is An Island – A Study of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew,” which was published in 1987.

Lee is Singapore’s founding father and a veteran politician of the ruling People’s Action Party. He served as Singapore’s prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and is the father of the current leader Lee Hsien Loong.

Agence France-Presse