Following the death of a Tamil asylum seeker on Manus Island on Monday the Australian High Commission allegedly has demanded that the young man’s family pay $9,000 to facilitate the transfer of his body back to Sri Lanka.
Rajeev Rajendran, a 32-year-old from the Jaffna region in Tamil Eelam, had been held on Manus Island since 2013, when he fled the country after being threatened by the Sri Lankan military. Two months ago, he found out that his father had cancer.
That news, combined with the uncertainty of his situation – being denied asylum in Australia despite his well-founded fear of persecution back home and the constant fear of deportation by the Australian government – finally took its toll this week. Rajeev appears to have taken his own life.
Now, the Australian government is trying to extract money from his family, who can’t afford such a sum.
“We have lost a son, a brother, a cousin and a wonderful friend”, Rajeev’s cousin Mathy said. “After all the trauma he was put through, the Australian government now wants to put his grieving family through more.
When Mathy visited the Australian High Commission on Monday, he was informed that Rajeev’s family would have to pay 900,000 Sri Lankan rupees to have Rajeev’s body transported home.
“We don’t know how we will find this amount of money. Why would they do this to us? They have taken our dear Rajeev from us – is this not enough? But now they demand a fortune as well.”
The Tamil Refugee Council is calling for the Australian government to:
- repatriate the body of Rajeev Rajendran as soon as possible, at no cost to his family
- pay for all arrangements related to Rajeev’s funeral
- provide compensation to Rajeev’s family for the unjust detention of their son
- be held accountable for the death of Rajeev Rajendran
- immediately release and grant protection to asylum seekers currently held in Manus Island and Nauru detention centres