CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Supporters of a Vietnamese student viciously assaulted by neo-Nazis said Thursday he should be allowed to return to Australia for medical treatment.
Minh Duong was attacked in 2012 in Melbourne by two men who kicked him and hit him with a brick. He was deported last week on the grounds that he had overstayed his student visa and told he cannot return to Australia for three years.
Organizers say petitions submitted to the government Thursday urging his return had 67,000 signatures, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Supporters argue he should be allowed to remain in Australia to get his degree and to complete treatment for his injuries.
"We have to take care of this young man," said Adrian De Luca, a musician in Melbourne. "He's an international guest -- he's not a refugee, he's not come here illegally, he's not an illegal immigrant."
Duong's supporters say his visa problems were a misunderstanding, that he believed his visa was valid until 2014. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the apparent discrepancy is being investigated but Duong remains an "illegal non-citizen."
The Australian Embassy in Vietnam can help Duong get the medical care he needs there, officials say, including thousands of dollars of dental work.