A Tamil refugee who fled Sri Lanka has been found dead at an Australian offshore detention centre on Manus Island.
The man had apparently killed himself, having known to have made at least one previous suicide attempt. He was also known to have a history of mental health problems.
Abdul Aziz Adam, a fellow refugee told The Guardian, “three days ago he attempted to kill himself but his friends save[d] him ... they took him to the hospital”.
“But unfortunately there’s not enough medical care and this morning the nurse and doctors confirmed that he ... [was found dead] next to kitchen”.
The Tamil Refugee Council released a statement saying the man had suffered from depression for over a year and like many other Tamils he “had been waiting for more than four years for a decision on his application for protection”.
Spokesperson Kumar Narayanaswami said, “He was aware of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s statements that the authorities intend to deport Tamil asylum seekers regardless of the legitimacy of their claims under the Refugee Convention.”
“Many Tamil asylum seekers have been telling me for a long time that they would prefer to die in detention than be sent back to a Sri Lankan torture chamber,” Narayanaswami said. “I always hoped that these were just pleas for help that would not be acted on... They need to be brought to the Australian mainland and granted asylum immediately.”
Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, stated that “Australia’s experiment in human suffering needs to stop immediately”.
“By October 31, Australia intends to force people to move from the main detention centre on Manus to the transit centre where this man lived,” she added. “His death should make the Australian government wake up and realise that forcibly transferring people to another facility with even worse healthcare facilities is not the solution.”