Manus Island claims another young life

The following comes from Tamil Refugee Council press releases.

The death of a Tamil asylum seeker on Manus Island is further evidence that the Australian government’s refugee policy is killing people, a spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council said on Monday.

“Rajeev Rajendran was just 32 and had everything to live for. But the suffering he has endured at the hands of the Australian government made him feel that he had nothing to live for”, Kumar Narayanasamy said.

Rajeev is the sixth Manus Island-detained refugee to have died in the last four years. His death follows those of 24-year-old Iranians Reza Barati and Hamid Kehazaei in 2014; 34-year-old Pakistani Kamil Hussain and 27-year-old Sudanese Faysal Ishak Ahmed in 2016; and 31-year-old Iranian Hamed Shamshiripour in August.

Rajendran, a Hindu from the Jaffna region in Tamil Eelam, is understood to have fled Sri Lanka after being threatened by the military. He landed on Christmas Island in 2013 before being taken to Manus Island by Australian authorities.

The uncertainty of his situation – being denied asylum in Australia despite his well-founded fear of persecution back home and the constant fear of deportation by the Australian government – finally took its toll this week. Rajeev appears to have taken his own life.

The Australian High Commission allegedly has demanded that the young man’s family pay $9,000 to facilitate the transfer of his body back to Sri Lanka.

“We have lost a son, a brother, a cousin and a wonderful friend”, Rajeev’s cousin Mathy said. “After all the trauma he was put through, the Australian government now wants to put his grieving family through more.”

When Mathy visited the Australian High Commission on Monday, he was informed that Rajeev’s family would have to pay 900,000 Sri Lankan rupees to have Rajeev’s body transported home.

“We don’t know how we will find this amount of money. Why would they do this to us? They have taken our dear Rajeev from us – is this not enough? But now they demand a fortune as well.”

The Tamil Refugee Council is calling for the Australian government to repatriate the body of Rajeev Rajendran as soon as possible, at no cost to his family; pay for all arrangements related to Rajeev’s funeral; provide compensation to Rajeev’s family for the unjust detention of their son; be held accountable for the death of Rajeev Rajendran; and immediately release and grant protection to asylum seekers currently held in Manus Island and Nauru detention centres.