The death through self-immolation of a Tamil asylum seeker in Sunshine, in Melbourne’s western suburbs, is further evidence that the Australian government’s refugee policies are killing people, Australia based Tamil Refugee Council said in a press release.
“Koneshwaran Krishnapillai was just 38 years old. He worked as a cleaner and was supporting his three children and wife. But the psychological suffering he has been put through by the Australian government’s cruel, inhumane policies pushed him to the point where he believed he no longer had anything to live for,” said Renuga Inpakumar, spokesperson for the Tamil Refugee Council.
“We have seen many refugees take their lives by suicide in Australian detention centres and in the community. Now we have the death of a family man who, like so many refugees on bridging visas, woke up every morning wondering if he would be returned to the persecution from which he fled.
“Koneshwaran suffered from depression for many months. Gradually, his psychological state deteriorated. Finally, he was pushed over the edge. We have lost many refugees to Australia’s refugee policy, and we dread that there will be more. Asylum seekers have been telling us for a long time that they would prefer to die here than be sent back to Sri Lanka. Here we have yet another case illustrating just how desperate and hopeless the situation has become for Tamil refugees in Australia.”
Like thousands of others, Koneshwaran has been waiting for more than eight years for permanent protection and safety. He was following the case of the Murugappan family from Biloela and was well aware of the statements that the Australian government has made reiterating its intention to deport Tamil asylum seekers.
Koneshwaran, a Christian from Trincomalee, arrived in Australia by boat from India in April 2013. He is understood to have fled Sri Lanka as a young child after his family came under threat from the military. On Friday, he doused himself in petrol and set himself alight.