A Sri Lankan man of the Tamil tribe has set himself ablaze, the latest in a spate of self-immolation cases involving asylum seekers who fear being sent back to Sri Lanka from Australia.
The 40-year-old man splashed himself with petrol and ignited it, but his housemates intervened and managed to put out the fire.
It happened late on Friday at a home in the Melbourne suburb of Noble Park, according to a statement from the Tamil Refugee Council.
There were similar incidents in May, when Leo Seemanpillai burned to death outside his Geelong home, and also in April when a Sydney-based Tamil man also set himself alight but survived with burns to 75 per cent of his body.
In the latest case, the man suffered burns to his legs and was taken by ambulance to Dandenong Hospital.
“We are very lucky on this occasion that the man’s housemates were aware of what he was planning to do otherwise we may have had another death on our hands,” council spokesperson Sri Samy said.
“I have had seven young men tell me in the past few weeks that they are thinking of doing this.
“They are fearful of being sent back to Sri Lanka and say they would prefer to die here than be sent back to torture, which is what the Australian government is doing to many Tamil asylum seekers.”
The man involved in this latest case came to Australia by boat in 2012, and he was on a bridging visa awaiting assessment of his asylum claim.
He fled Sri Lanka, leaving his wife and daughter behind, after security police broke his legs.
The council said last week he had learned his brother, held in a Sri Lankan prison for four years, had disappeared and was feared dead.
The man feared the same fate if returned to Sri Lanka.
“The previous Labor government, and the current Coalition government, have sent back more than 1000 Tamil asylum-seekers under an enhanced screening process,” Mrs Samy also said.
“That does not allow time for proper assessment of asylum claims.”
She called on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to alleviate fear among Tamil asylum seekers by granting protection to genuine refugees.