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Suicidal asylum seeker taken to Nauru jail

Tuesday 1 December 2015 | Published in Regional

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YAREN – There are reports of an asylum seeker on Nauru who has been jailed after attempting suicide.

Refugee advocates are concerned for the Sri Lankan asylum seeker who has been locked up after he threatened to commit suicide at the detention centre after his application for refugee status was rejected.

The Tamil Refugee Council, based in Australia, says the 30-year-old man climbed up a tree where he stayed for nine hours on Sunday, and was threatening to jump.

The Council’s spokesperson, Aran Mylvaganam says the man’s refugee application was rejected recently, after he and his family being in detention for two and a half years.

Mylvaganam told Radio New Zealand’s Dateline Pacific that detention centre workers told the man he would receive help if he came down, but when he did, the police arrested him.

“A 30-year-old Tamil asylum seeker on Nauru climbed up a tree on Sunday at 9.00am local time and threatened to commit suicide unless he and his family is released from detention into Australia,” Mylvaganam said.

“The man has a five-year-old daughter and his wife. We have received photographs of the incident.

“While the man was in the tree, there were guards at the bottom of the tree and among the onlookers were the wife and the five-year-old child. The five-year-old child was crying and looking up at her dad threatening to commit suicide.

“It is heartbreaking to see a five-year-old girl looking at her dad threatening to commit suicide. It is heartbreaking.

“At about 6pm local time the guards convinced the man to come down with the promise that he would get a positive response within 24 hours.

“As soon as he came down Nauruan police came and arrested him and he is in jail at the moment.

“They arrested him and according to the information we are getting from the refugees inside the centre he is in jail but we don’t know the reasons why the police have arrested him.

“It may be illegal for someone to attempt suicide in Nauru, that may be the case.

“This man has been in detention for two and a half years. First he was kept at Christmas Island. According to his wife they were promised refugee protection when they were in Christmas Island.

“Somehow they were transferred to Nauru two years ago and just a few days ago was told his asylum application was rejected.

“We hope the Australian government, for the sake of that five-year-old girl will bring this family into Australia and make sure they are being looked after.

“Obviously the conditions on Nauru mean children and adults are not living a normal life.

“And we want the Australian government to free this family and free all the children and other adults on Nauru.”

- Dateline Pacific