Australian asylum-seekers threaten suicide
Tuesday April 3, 6:24 PM
CANBERRA (Reuters) - A group of 12 Afghans being held in an Australian immigration detention camp have threatened to kill themselves, possibly by self-immolation, rather than be sent home, a refugee support group said on Tuesday.
The threat comes a day after a Pakistani man, whose wife and three daughters were denied Australian immigration visas, set himself alight in front of the Australian parliament in Canberra.
"They are at the end of the line and have threatened similar action rather than be deported to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan," Ian Rintoul, a coordinator for the Refugee Action Collective, told Reuters.
"The self immolation at parliament house by a Pakistani refugee might only be the beginning of more such protests," Rintoul said.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said he was not aware of the threat but said detainees at the Port Hedland camp, in remote northwest Australia, could not readily get their hands on flammable substances.
"We don't respond to that sort of coercion," he added.
About 40 of the camp's detainees last week rioted in protest at three other detainees being sent back to the Middle East.
Australia's policy of mandatory detention for illegal immigrants has been criticised by human rights groups, with cramped conditions and long periods of detention raising tension in the mostly outback camps.
Some Port Hedland detainees were evacuated in November after asylum seekers allegedly lit fires in the building. A rampage at another camp last year caused millions of dollars worth of damage and ended only after water cannons were used.
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