Sri Lankan on Bridging Visa Committs Suicide: Morrison Uncaring

Leo Seemanpillai

The young man who was on a bridging visa set himself on fire on yesterday in Geelong.

According to refugee advocates his name was Leo Seemanpillai.

The 29-year-old Tamil man arrived in Darwin by boat in January 2013 and has been on a bridging visa since May 2013, living in Geelong.

The burn injuries affected 90 per cent of his body and he died this morning in The Alfred hospital’s burns unit.

Like many asylum seekers he had family in Australia.

Trevor Grant, from the Tamil Refugee Council, said the man had fled persecution in Sri Lanka in the later stages of the country’s decades-long civil war, spending time in an Indian refugee camp before arriving in Australia.

Grant said the man was frustrated at the lack of progress on his protection visa.

“He was very, very depressed about his situation, not knowing what’s happening to him.

“He feared if he went back [to Sri Lanka] … he’d be going straight back to jail and probably torture,” Grant said.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s statements on the incident reflect his detachment from the psychological effects of the Coalition’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers.

“I’m advised by my department that a man believed to be an illegal maritime arrival of Sri Lankan nationality suffered serious burns in an incident in Geelong yesterday morning, I understand he died of his injuries overnight.”

Mr Morrison said the man’s death was not caused by an assault, but refused to give further details.

Emergency services yesterday rushed to the Geelong suburb of Newtown in response to reports that a man was on fire near the intersection of Cairns St and West Fyans Street after 10.30am.

Police are investigating the incident.In April another Tamil asylum seeker who received a letter saying his protection visa application had failed took his own life.

In other news hundreds of asylum seekers on Christmas Island are involved in a hunger strike, the Refugee Action Coalitions says 7 people have sewn their lips together.

Mr Morrison confirmed that protests are continuing on Christmas Island, but refused to confirm reports that some asylum seekers have sewn their lips together.




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