Refugee found dead on Manus Island in reported suicide
A 32-year-old Tamil refugee has committed suicide overnight on Manus Island. Photo: AAP
A refugee on Manus Island has died in an apparent suicide, just days after self-harming at the Australian-run centre.
The 32-year-old Tamil man from Sri Lanka was found dead about 4am (AEST) on Monday.
A detainee on Manus Island told The New Daily the man was “mentally disturbed”.
Sri Lankan detainees had requested urgent medical assistance for the man two weeks ago, he said.
The New Daily understands the man’s family has been informed of his death.
The Tamil man, who was living in the East Lorengau Transit Centre, was transferred to hospital three days ago after self-harming.
Ian Rintoul, a spokesperson from Refugee Action Coalition, said the man had been “distressed for some time”.
“There are no facilities on Lorengau to provide proper assistance for mentally distressed people,” Mr Rintoul said.
“The death has increased the anxiety and distress among all the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus as they struggle with their own circumstances.
“There are two other extremely mentally distressed people who urgently need assistance.”
Manus Island Police Commander David Yapu told Fairfax Media the death was suicide.
Former Manus Island MP Ron Knight told The New Daily police were investigating and a report will be prepared for the coroner. He said he was sceptical of claims the death was suicide.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed the death and declined to comment further.
Barri Phartarfod from Doctors 4 Refugees said there was a “severe lack of psychiatric care on Manus Island”.
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the man “deserved the chance to rebuild his life in freedom and safety”.
“So this man lost his freedom, then he lost his hope, and now he has lost his life. It is an absolute tragedy,” Mr Webb said.
“It becomes more and more clear, with every death and with every violent attack against innocent people in our care, that the only humane and responsible way forward is to immediately evacuate everyone trapped on Nauru and Manus to safety in Australia.
“Otherwise, further tragedy is inevitable.
“If our government then wants to prowl around the globe trying to find safe third countries – fine. But after four years of suffering and death, it is cruel and irresponsible to leave innocent people in danger any longer.”
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Immigration sent condolences to those grieving the man’s death, and said he’d requested an “urgent briefing” from Mr Dutton about the incident.
Greens Senator Nick McKim described the death as “catastrophic neglect by Peter Dutton”.
“This man had suffered for years in a system that Australia’s Labor and Liberal parties deliberately designed and operated to cause mental harm,” he said.
“Peter Dutton needs to end the torture and evacuate every single man, woman and child from offshore detention and bring them to safety and proper care in Australia.”
The Tamil man’s suicide marks the sixth death on Manus Island in the centre’s four years of operation.
His death comes less than two months after Hamed Shamshiripour, 28, died in what authorities described as suicide.
Refugees at the centre questioned the cause of death.
Dozens of refugees were last week resettled in the United States after four years of uncertainty in the Australian-run offshore processing centre.
The New Daily has contacted Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. International Health and Medical Centres (IHMS), which provides medical care to detainees, has also been contacted for comment.
Distressed readers seeking assistance should contact Lifeline on 131 114. Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.