The suicide of a Tamil refugee in Melbourne on 5 December is further evidence that the Australian government’s refugee policies are killing people, the Tamil Refugee Council said today.

Varun was just 18 years old and had his whole life ahead of him. But the suffering he endured because of the government’s policies pushed him to the point where he believed he no longer had anything to live for.

“We are aware of at least 9 Tamils who have taken their lives by suicide this year. Just a fortnight ago in Brisbane, it was a 25-year-old man on a bridging visa,” said TRC spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam.

“Now we have the death of a young man, who – like so many other young Tamils on temporary protection visas – woke up every morning and wondered when he would be able to live a normal life.”

Varun arrived on Christmas Island by boat from India in 2012. He was held in detention for several months before being released into the community. His family is understood to have fled Sri Lanka for India after being threatened by the Sri Lankan military.

Varun was granted a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa in 2018, which meant that he had an uncertain future in Australia. He and his mother and sister had to leave their friends in the community in Dandenong and relocate to a regional town without any government support.
“He was also well aware of the statements by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that, eventually, the government wants to send back all Tamil asylum seekers, regardless of the legitimacy of their claims under the Refugee Convention,” Mylvaganam said.