Perpetual Insecurity 13c - in Australia


Self-immolations in Australia

Activists hold banner naming those who've died as a result of Australia's border policies. Main text reads 'You don't save lives at sea by killing people on land'.

[imagecaption] ‘Where’s My Refuge?’, World Refugee Day protest, outside Perth Immigration Detention Centre, 2017. Photo: Marziya Mohammedali. [/imagecaption]

State-inflicted-harm throughout the process of seeking asylum is not confined to the Australian context. In the U.S. and UK there are similar documented cases of people being targeted while living in the community and placed in circumstances that produce fatal consequences.


Known fatal self immolations in Australia include those of Sharaz Kayani (2001) [imagecaption] Sharaz Kayani had sought asylum from Pakistan and gained Australian citizenship in 1999. In 2001, he self-immolated in the visitors’ gallery of Parliament House in Canberra after repeated rejections of his application for family reunion. Then Immigration Minister Ruddock attempted to portray this despairing act as a coercive threat to the ‘sovereign right’ of government to make migration decisions. (Duncanson, 2002) A report by the Ombudsman investigated the refusal of Sharaz Kayani’s application for family reunion. It notes how DIMA (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) refused to exercise discretion to waive the health requirement for one of his children who had a disability, and identified ‘defective administration’ and some ‘systemic issues relating to the treatment of split family applications’.  [/imagecaption]

An Iraqi refugee (2015) [imagecaption] This man, who has not been publicly named, arrived in Australia in 2001, was detained at Woomera Detention Centre and released the following year on a TPV.  In 2007 he suffered a workplace injury which prevented him from being able to continue working. His mental health declined, partly due to the bureaucratic processes he was subjected to in order to receive financial benefits from his compensation claim. In January 2015 he self-immolated in the reception area of a QBE office. Before self-immolating he stated ‘I only have two regrets in my life. That is my mother and father meeting and having me, and me coming to Australia from Iraq in 2001’. [/imagecaption]

Leorsin Seemanpillai (2014)

Ali Jaffari (2015) [imagecaption] Ali Jaffari was a Hazara refugee who was detained at the Yongah Hill IDC following a permanent protection visa cancellation under section 501 of the immigration act. A coronial inquest investigating his death is scheduled for later this year. [/imagecaption]

Khodayar Amini  (2015)

Omid Masoumali on Nauru (2016)

In addition to reported fatal self-immolations, there have been a number of attempted self-immolations. In 2014, a young Tamil asylum seeker self-immolated after receiving a negative decision on an appeal for his refugee status. Only months later, a 40 year-old Tamil asylum seeker made a similar attempt. In 2015 it was reported that a man self-immolated inside Villawood detention centre. In 2016, Hodan Yasin, a young Somali woman held on Nauru, self-immolated only days after Omid Masoumali. In 2017, a man set himself alight outside the Sydney Department of Immigration office. Alarmingly, even children on Nauru have attempted to self-immolate recently.


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