The Age
Kosovar ruling draws the line at cousins


Tuesday 11 April 2000

BANDIANA - A wire fence and a sense of freedom yesterday divided Taulan Meta, 8, and his 10-year-old cousin, Besart.

The Kosovar cousins are separated by Australian Government policy. Inside the Bandiana army base in northern Victoria, Besart and his family are illegal immigrants - and prisoners.

Outside, Taulan and his parents, Bahrije and Javed, are free to go about the community. Their branch of the displaced family from Pristina has been granted an extension to their temporary visas because Mr Meta is having an operation.

But after yesterday's High Court decision rejecting the bid by a group of Kosovars to stay in Australia, all indications are that Taulan and his family may have no option other than detention if they want stay on after the medical extension expires.

The Kosovars, who had failed in their request to be considered for protection visas, had asked the court on Friday to issue an injunction stopping the Federal Government from deporting them.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the ruling, by Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, confirmed the government's authority to remove the Kosovars, who came to Australia last year on temporary visas.

Taulan and his family are living in Dandenong, in Melbourne's south-east, but yesterday waited outside Bandiana for most of the day for a glimpse of their relatives.

The Dandenong branch of the family is banned by immigration officials from visiting the Bandiana branch. But children can employ all sorts of stratagems to subvert such rules.

Yesterday, Besart kicked his soccer ball to the fence that separated them. When he ran to retrieve it he handed Taulan a note for his parents.

"He said things are very bad," said Taulan afterwards. "I feel very, very bad."

Inside Bandiana, the Kosovars who had hoped for a reprieve were stunned by the High Court's rebuff.

"What can I say?" said Mr Ali Gaihu, who says he will be killed if he forced to return to Kosovo. "I've done everything, I'm so tired ... but I'm still hoping the Australians will help us."

Mr Gaihu, who spoke by phone, said being incarcerated in the former safe haven was putting the group under enormous stress. "Some of the ladies are so scared because the security were looking in the window ... many people are feeling so bad and sick."

Original article