Security risk refugee tries to end life

A TAMIL refugee branded a security threat by ASIO and held in detention in Melbourne has attempted to take his life – following an earlier suicide attempt by another Tamil man in Sydney.

Managing arrivals from Sri Lanka has emerged as the biggest challenge for Australian immigration authorities, with the latest boat intercepted at Cocos Island on Wednesday evening carrying 86 people.

It comes as international pressure builds for a boycott of the upcoming Commonwealth meeting, set to be held in Sri Lanka next year, with Britain leaving open the prospect of not attending.

More than 5700 Sri Lankans have landed on Australian territory this year – well over 80 per cent of all asylum seekers arriving by boat.

The Immigration Department has stepped up involuntary deportation of Sri Lankans from the majority Sinhalese ethnic group, including 32 on Thursday.

But arrivals continue to outpace deportations and the United Nations has expressed alarm Australia may not be adequately assessing people’s asylum claims.

Of Sri Lankan asylum seekers already in Australia, the most difficult cases revolve around more than 50 people, the majority Tamils, held in detention.

They have been found to be refugees – preventing them being returned home – but branded a security risk by the security agency ASIO, making them ineligible for release into the community.

About 10 men with adverse assessments are being held at the Broadmeadows centre with several suicide attempts this year among the group.

In the latest case, the man – whose identity is known to Fairfax and who has been detained since June 2009 – was believed to be despairing of his prospects for release.

He was found early Thursday morning by another detainee and an Immigration spokeswoman said he was then transported by ambulance to hospital.

It follows the attempted suicide last week of another Tamil man at Villawood detention centre in Sydney who was denied security clearance by ASIO.

Another Tamil man given an adverse security assessment is on the fourth day of a hunger strike at the Broadmeadows centre.

Despite the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009, the international spotlight has again focused on the troubled island after a leaked UN report this week showed the organisation failed to protect civilians in the final days of a brutal offensive against the separatist Tamil Tigers.

Only last week, Australia was fiercely critical of Sri Lanka’s postwar human rights record, telling the government it must stop its police and army abusing, torturing and mistreating its citizens, and must end the disappearances and abductions occurring across the country.

But Australia has also worked closely with Sri Lanka in an attempt to discourage boat voyages.

The foreign affairs committee of Britain’s House of Commons on Thursday urged the UK government to join Canada in refusing to attend the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo.

The Foreign Office said it was ”too early” to talk about Britain’s presence at next year’s meeting.

”We will look to Sri Lanka to demonstrate its commitment to upholding the Commonwealth values of good governance and respect for human rights,” a spokesman said.

With Ben Doherty

For help or information, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114, or visit beyondblue杭州夜网.au.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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