Australia, Nauru camp: Refugee death after setting himself on fire shows system must end

‘The desperate actions of this refugee underscore the perilous circumstances found in offshore processing centres run by the Australian government’ – Champa Patel

The death of another refugee in an Australian-run detention centre on Nauru demonstrates the fatal flaws of a system that must be brought to an end, Amnesty International said today.

A 23-year-old Iranian man known as Omid died in hospital in Brisbane, Australian officials confirmed, after reportedly being held for three years at the Australian-run facility on the Pacific island of Nauru. Omid had been granted refugee status. 

Omid was airlifted to Brisbane on Thursday with third-degree burns to most of his torso after he set himself on fire a day earlier.

Champa Patel, Amnesty’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific, said:

“The desperate actions of this refugee underscore the perilous circumstances found in offshore processing centres run by the Australian government.

“As Amnesty International has been stressing for several years now, the current system is cruel, inhuman and needs to end.

 “We have received reports of rape, sexual harassment and physical and psychological abuse at these centres, and this most recent death is another sad example of how Australia is letting down some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

On Tuesday, Papua New Guinea’s highest court ruled that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers is illegal under its constitution. The Supreme Court ordered that both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments take steps to cease and prevent the unlawful detention and continued breach of constitutional and human rights.

Amnesty has always contended that Australia’s transfer of asylum seekers to process their claims in detention facilities in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has amounted to refoulement – sending people back to countries where they are subjected to human rights violations.

Amnesty is calling on the Australian government to end offshore processing, and to bring those people sent to Nauru and Manus Island back to Australia to have their refugee claims fairly assessed.

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