Song for Selva

by Les Thomas

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Proceeds from this track go directly to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre -



Please let me relate my story in the hope that I could solicit your support to bring some meaning to my life. At present, after 37 months in detention, I feel that I am "a worthless human being", to my beloved wife and daugthter; a daughter, who I have not seen, except in photographs.

I was able to share my love and affection with my wife for eleven (11) months, who I left when she was two months pregnant. I was not there to give her hand through her pregnancy, nor did I have the opportunity to be at her side when giving birth, and the opportunity to hold my daughter when she was born.

My beloved daughter is now two and half (2 1/2) years old, and has not had the opportunity of a cuddle, nor the warm embrace of a father; all she only hears is my voice intertwined with emotional cries of my unfailing love for her. After my daily calls to my beloved wife and daughter, I stay awake in bed unable to sleep. There are days when my emotions become uncontrollable, and I cry fulfilled with the shame that I have become "a worthless human being", and not a husband to my wife and a father to my daughter. These days bring mixed messages to my mind, where I think; death would be better.

The 37 months in detention has physically and mentally affected me to function as a normal human being, as detailed in the report by my Counsellor at Foundation House. This is a true reflection of a humang being affected by 37 months in detention in combination with the effects of war in Sri Lanka.

May, I now take you through my journey in detention in Australia and the many hurdles I have faced in trying to be recognised as a refugee, denied a bridging visa and community detention, which is as follows:
I left Sri Lanka to escape from the cluthes of the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the hope of finding safety in Australia. I arrived in Australi on the 1st of March 2010 at Christmas Island (CI), and was kept in detention in CI until March 2011.
Whilst I was in CI, I was subjected to numerous interviews, that were like investigations, by Immigration, and had my case rejected, as well as by an Independent Reviewer; I was denied recognition as a "refugee". I could not comprehend this decision, and became physically and mentally affected in trying to understand the process of fairness and equity, in the assessment of a person as a refugee, as I saw people of other nationalities getting visas and leaving CI in a short time and, I being denied refugee status.

Furthermore, when I was rejected by Immigration and the Independent Reviewer, I was advised that it was safe for me to to return to Sri Lanka. On the contrary, Sri Lanka was not safe; people who were returned, went missing, killed by the armed forces. The though of been sent back to Sri Lanka, began to affect me psychologically.

In February 2011, I wrote to the Minister of Immigration and provided additional information and evidence in support of my case. In March 2011, when I arrived in Queensland, I stayed there for eight months, and applied to the Courts to have my case reviewed two times, without success. After the Courts rejected my case, I wrote to the Minister in September 2011. Then I wrote a further two letters to the Minister in October 2011.

In October 2011, I was transferred from Queensland to MIDC in Melbourne. After five months at MIDC, I was transferred to MITA. Whilst at MITA, in April 2012, I applied for a Bridging Visa, and got a response from Immigration on 7th May 2012, that I would be monitored for three months, pending a Bridging Visa. No reason was given as to why I was to be monitored to get this visa.

On 18th October 2012, the Minister denied giving my a Bridging Visa, or the opportunity to be released into Community Detention. However, dthe Minister agreed to reopen my case; basically starting a fresh process. I got this response after 18 months; it was very bad news; no Bridging Visa or Community Detention.

On 24th October my case was reopened for a Protection Visa. However, it is five months, and I have not had any information, either from Immigration or my Lawyer about my cased. All I have heard from Immigration is that, they are awaiting ASIO's response and other reviews, and that only after receiving this information, that a decision will be made.

When I ring my daughter, she asks me when I would be coming home, and requests me to bring her a chocolate. When I hear this, I feel ashamed, that as a father, I cannot fulfil her request.

One day when a plane flew over my area, my wife told my daughter, that one day they will go by plane to be with me in Australia. So every time my daughter sees a plane, she thinks that she will be taking a plane to see me. Sadly, every time a plane flies over the house; it means further diappointment for my daughter.

Furthermore, every time my daughter goes to the temple, she prays to the Hindu God=, to help me to get a visa. Also when people come and hold my daughter, she gets upset, and cannot understand why her dad is not there to hold her.

When I left home, I told my wife that in seven to eigth months that we could be together. However, it is now 37 months, and we are not together as a family. All these monghts spend in detention has affected me bother phsically, mentally and psychologically; "I feel that I am close to losing my mind". I feel like a vegetable, and my body is listless.

I have spent four years seeing Counsellors, mental health specialists and doctors, but no one has been able to help me to get out of detention. I now believe, that I am like a political football between Australia and Sri Lanka. I see no hope of being released from detention. Sometimes, I belive that is is better for the Australian government to kill me in a merciful way, rather than slowly kill me, by first making me "a worthless human being".

Finally, I make thi8s appeal to all the citizens of Australia who care about refugees, to advocate strongly for me to be given a visa. As a first step, I would like to have my freedom, to be given a Bridging Visa or Community Detention, so that I could feel like a human being again, and then start to rebuild my body and mental faculties, to become a proud citizen of Australia together with my beloved wife and daughter.

Please, all citizens of Australia, who care about refugees, use your strength and resources to advocate on my behalf, to make me feel "a worthwhile human being"

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,



Song for Selva

My name is Selva
And I am fighting for my life
37 months I have been held
I miss my child I miss my wife

Escaped the clutches of the men with guns
Sri Lanka was my home
Australian put me in a prison camp
Now it's three years gone

Here they treat me like a worthless human being
Like a worthless human being
They see me as a worthless human being
But they do not know

Officials here they question me
They say they want me to return
But how can I go back now
When I have seen my people burn?

It's hard to go on living
When your future is denied
Years will wear you down it's true
I could be one more suicide

So tell me that I'm not a worthless human being
Cos no one needs a worthless human being
My wife and child need worthwhile human being
And can they know?

Our little girl wasn't even born
When I crossed the raging sea
My daily voice on the telephone
Is all she knows of me

I hold her photo in my hand
And I dream of a better time
How do I explain her dad's in jail
When I'm guilty of no crime?

Can you help me be a worthwhile human being
I only want to be a worthwhile human being
Please let me be a worthwhile human being
We all need to know


released April 11, 2013
Les Thomas
Jeff Lang



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These Machines Cut Razor Wire Melbourne, Australia

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