Australian governments have ‘pushed refugees to suicide’

Three refugees have suicided in Australian detention centres in the space of two weeks.

Fifty refugee supporters held a vigil on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, to commemorate the suicides of three refugees in the space of two weeks.

The three refugees were: Vasantha, a Tamil whose claim for protection had been rejected; Saruuan, an Iraqi refugee held in Yongah Hill Detention Centre near Perth; and Hafiz, a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan.

Victorian Afghan Association Network president Nazir Yousafi explained the circumstances of Hafiz's death. He fled the Taliban, leaving his wife behind.

Once in Australia he spent several years on a bridging visa that did not allow him to work. Eventually he was given the right to work, but he was still denied family reunion rights. This caused him to become depressed, lose his job, start drinking and eventually to become homeless.

Yousafi said there is not enough support for people like Hafiz, who should have been given a permanent visa and family reunion rights.

Samantha Ratnam, Greens leader in the Victorian parliament, told the vigil that successive Australian governments have "pushed people to suicide".

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