Tamil asylum seeker fighting for life in Australia

Sydney, April 11: A Sri Lankan asylum seeker in Australia is fighting for his life after dousing himself in petrol following the the decision to deport him home.

The man, whose first name is Janarthanan and who is in his late 20s, doused himself in petrol and set himself alight shortly after 8.30 p.m. near the shipyard in Balmain in Sydney’s inner-western suburb, causing severe burns to 70 per cent of his body, The Age reported Thursday.

He was on a bridging visa and had been working as a cleaner at Balmain.

The Tamil asylum seeker had been living in Australia for at least 18 months, the report said.

The Australia’s immigration department told him this week that his application for a permanent protection visa had been denied and he would have to return to Sri Lanka, Trevor Grant, convener of the Tamil Refugee Council, said.

New South Wales police confirmed Thursday that the man was in a “critical condition” in Concord Hospital, the report said.

Janarthanan, who had come to Australia after fleeing the Sri Lankan authorities, had left a suicide note saying he would rather die in Australia than die in Sri Lanka, Grant said.

Tamil asylum seekers are living in continual fear, he added.

The country’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said it was a “deeply distressing incident”.

“The government’s focus is to ensure for the proper care and support of this young man, in partnership with the Sri Lankan high commission,” a spokesman for Morrison was quoted as saying.

The Australian government, however, confirmed that the young man “was found not to be owed protection and this decision was affirmed on appeal by the Refugee Review Tribunal earlier this month”.