Australian Tamil youth runs for Senate

July 12, 2010 Comments Off on Australian Tamil youth runs for Senate

TAMIL JUSTICE IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT BRAMI JEGAN, A YOUNG AUSTRALIAN TAMIL FEMALE WILL BE RUNNING IN THE UPCOMING AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL ELECTIONS FOR THE SENATE!!!

Refugee, then investment banker, then journalist, then communications officer, then human rights advocate and finally political candidate, Brami Jegan tells us what led her down this path.

The Australian – Tamil refugee, Brami Jegan, seeks Senate seat

AS an ex-banker of Tamil heritage, Brami Jegan has hardly been plucked from central casting for a life in Australian politics.

“I know, my background is a bit different,” the newly anointed Greens Senate candidate says with a laugh. “But I’ve got nothing to hide. I’m here because I want to contribute to our society.”

Ms Jegan, 30, was born in the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna. But with the civil war raging, her family moved to Somalia, Tanzania and Malaysia before finally settling in Sydney as refugees when she was eight. Her first career was as an investment banker with Macquarie Bank and JPMorgan for eight years.

But Ms Jegan determined to chart a more public-minded course after returning to Sri Lanka in 2002 for two weeks with her father.

“Seeing children blind through malnutrition, and adults without arms and legs because of landmines, it was really confronting,” Ms Jegan says. “And that’s when I decided to do something more with my life. That was the beginning of a road that led here, to a career in politics.”

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Having worked as a journalist with SBS, and currently as a communications officer with Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, Ms Jegan is also expecting the scrutiny that comes with seeking public office — even if, ranked fourth on the Greens Senate ticket in NSW, her chances of winning a seat are slim.

Last year in England, her uncle, Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar — known as AC Shanthan — was jailed for two years for aiding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the notorious Tamil Tigers militia outlawed in Britain as a terrorist organisation.

The founder of the British Tamil Association, Shanthan was found to have acquired electrical componentry and military manuals for the LTTE. Three other charges were dismissed.

“Yes, it happened, but I don’t believe I have anything to apologise for,” the Greens candidate says, pointing to a transcript of the judge’s comments in which her uncle was called “a thoroughly decent man” who hadn’t sought to “assist (the LTTE) in war”.

“The fact is my uncle was trying to help Tamils in Sri Lanka. But he wasn’t a terrorist,” she says.

Unsurprisingly, Ms Jegan nominates refugee policy as her main political focus. She is a regular visitor to the 39 Tamil asylum-seekers held at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney’s west.

And while she agrees Sri Lanka is more secure now, she cites the latest UNHCR report in stating the threat still exists for some, and that asylum-seekers should be assessed case by case.

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