Queenstown rallies in support of family facing deportation to SL

26 November 2017 10:27 am - 24     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The people of Queenstown showed their compassion as they took to the streets in support of a family facing deportation to Sri Lanka.

After eight years in New Zealand, Dinesha Amarasinghe, her husband Sam Wijerathne and their three sons have been told they are to be deported to their birth country as Dinesha, the primary visa holder, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three years ago.

A humanitarian appeal has been lodged but the family's future remains uncertain.

About 400 people marched through streets more familiar to tourist buses than protests, many with tears in their eyes, to show their support for the family.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker organised the march and walked with the family at the front leading a chant of "We support" as others joined the crowd. Ultimately the crowd finished with the rally cry: "Let them stay".

Teachers and class mates from Queenstown Primary School attended, volunteers firefighters, representatives from social services and people who have been moved by the family's story.

Some people said it was the first time they had marched for any reason.

Walker said he thought it was first time in New Zealand a public march had been held to support a family in this type of situation.

Baskets of Blessings co-ordinator Tam Schurmann has been supporting the family and told the crowd she was "entirely and completely heartbroken" when she first visited the family in the one-bedroom cabin they call home in the former Queenstown Camping ground.

"There was a despair that filled the room. The boys hung their heads, there was very little food on the table and Dinesha and Sam were full of tears, full of despair, vulnerable and with a feeling a nobody was backing them in a situation which was dire."

The march was "an outpouring of love for a family that we respect and we want as part of Queenstown," she said.

Many people in Queenstown had moved from foreign countries and knew immigration was not easy, she said.

The family had a good life in Sri Lanka, despite the threat of crime and corruption, but had moved to New Zealand for a better future for their children.

They were hard working, volunteered in the community, helped at school and the children were doing exceptionally well at school.

"We don't want to to see them leave. Especially now. Dinesha needs us more than ever," she said.

In Sri Lanka they would face crime and danger.

"They face financial hardship in their lives because everything they came over with has been put into surviving in this country, put into visas and immigration applications. They have nothing to go back to.

Dinesha's medicine can't even be found in Sri Lanka. The children don't speak the language and for Sam to go off to work means there will be no supervision for these three young boys."

"This is the heart of Queenstown exposed right here...Incredible support and I believe that when the Minister of Immigration...sees this outpouring of support, I believe that his heart will be filled with compassion. I believe that this is a powerful voice to have Dinesha and Sam and the boys stay in New Zealand."

Sam emotionally thanked the crowd for their support and said his family was going through a really tough time.

"I had a good life in my country but came here to get a better future for my kids...after five years my wife is diagnosed with MS."

Walker said it showed what a "a wonderful, caring place Queenstown is."

"I am so proud of my community.

Marchers Melissa Copland said her sons were friends with the boys at school.

"They're lovely. They've been around home and they play a mean game of cricket," she said.- Stuff

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  Comments - 24

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  • mike Sunday, 26 November 2017 10:48 AM

    wonderful gesture by NZ people amazing . the family deserves the support. but must say don't mislead that in SL you will face crime n danger. there is crime in NZ many houses are being broken in to which I personally know

    disappointed Sunday, 26 November 2017 10:50 AM

    "In Sri Lanka they would face crime and danger", "despite the threat of crime and corruption".These statements show the tales people say once overseas to stay on as refugees or to gain citizenship. Queensland is welcome to keep these parasites.

    ceylon Sunday, 26 November 2017 11:49 AM

    lankans know very well that lanka is a crime paradiseno future for childrenexcept presidentcabinet parlimentarians and few more safe there.its ine of hells in world. via DM Android App

    grobr Sunday, 26 November 2017 01:35 PM

    You should join these people in Australia then.

    malik Sunday, 26 November 2017 05:44 PM

    grobr, Typical Lankan, commenting from another country, other than SL.

    Jaliya Monday, 27 November 2017 09:16 AM

    grobr can't handle the reality... he is one of the persons who are on the take from the public funds .... never should foreign immigration allow these rats to get out of town you stay in the rats nest.

    ahamed Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:41 PM

    What a nation to respect the humanity, but our country going towards opposite side?

    Suresh Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:50 PM

    I am running out of words. God bless the NZ people via DM Android App

    Dhammika Sunday, 26 November 2017 03:36 PM

    Thank you , The great grsture of people of Queenstown ,. NZ . We are greatfull to you from SL .

    lokka Sunday, 26 November 2017 04:13 PM

    all white peoples likes our beautiful country only our peoples talk rubbish about our beautiful nation

    malik Sunday, 26 November 2017 08:19 PM

    Yes Only Lankans living and working outside sri lankan love SL. That's why cardboard patriots left. We know the reality here

    Sunil Sunday, 26 November 2017 04:56 PM

    What a magnanimous gesture by the people of New Zealand.

    Dperera Sunday, 26 November 2017 06:12 PM

    NZ govt. should help these people who are not bogus refugees.

    cisco Sunday, 26 November 2017 06:31 PM

    Although Sri Lakan landed to NZ and AUS to meet green pasture see how these so called developed cointries treat them when they cannot give their labour to prosper those countries. via DM Android App

    TMA Monday, 27 November 2017 09:40 AM

    I live in NZ haven't seen what you are claiming? Stop bluffing. Get out of your toad well and see the world and learn reality

    Bala Sunday, 26 November 2017 07:42 PM

    Everyone seems to have missed out the point that they were refused a visa because the husband abused a visa in Japan ten years ago by overstaying and being deported from there.

    ceylon Sunday, 26 November 2017 07:46 PM

    new zealand has natural nature.its people also has natural hearts filled with kindness and helpfullness. via DM Android App

    sss Sunday, 26 November 2017 08:28 PM

    Bless all of them

    ismael Sunday, 26 November 2017 09:38 PM

    These people deserve a reprieve with regard to their status.They are not boat refugees with unknown criminal backgrounds or blood on their hands. Its very nice to see good people rallying together in support.Wish them all good blessings in their efforts.

    Jigsaw Jakson Monday, 27 November 2017 06:08 AM

    Why are they trying to deport 8 years later, are they as bad as we are supposed to be ??????

    fakenews Monday, 27 November 2017 06:53 AM

    Can't the husband find work in Sri Lanka? Or is the father trying to stay at home with the children in NZ and live comfortably on benefits?

    rohingyarefugee Monday, 27 November 2017 07:03 AM

    Remember the Rohingya

    nick Monday, 27 November 2017 07:05 AM

    very good but we keep forgetting these sort of things do not bring good to our beautiful nation instead shows the world that Srilanka is one of the worst country to live via DM Android App

    David Monday, 27 November 2017 08:01 AM

    this is AMAZING! Humanity does exist. What a wonderful demonstration of love and solidarity. God bless this family and I hope that they will continue to live the dream in NZ, the one they have build all their hopes and dreams on for 8 years.


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