Manus refugee death suicide – police

101st daily protest 101, 9-11-17. Photo: supplied

A Rohingya refugee detained by Australia on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has died.

Police on the island said his death was a suicide.

Manus provincial police commander David Yapu said the 52-year-old man was killed today after he leapt from a moving bus.

“They were travelling together with the other refugees, from the camp coming into the town for their normal activities, doing the shopping. It was very unfortunate that whilst they were travelling the refugee jumped off the bus and got himself killed,” Mr Yapu said.

“It was a suicide, it was a suicide. A person just jumping out from a bus while the bus was moving, in motion, it’s a tragic situation,” he said.

“There were other refugees on the bus, we had security there. Our men are collecting statements from them.”

The body had been taken to Manus General Hospital where police were talking to witnesses in case more refugees went there “to cause problems”, the police commander said.

Journalist and Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani said the refugee had epilepsy and was taken to Australia for medical treatment two years ago.

The man had returned without receiving treatment and would occasionally pass out, Mr Boochani said.

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said the man was detained on Manus since 2013 and suffered seizures.

“He should not have been taken there in 2013, and he should not have been returned there after he was brought to Australia for medical treatment in 2014,” Mr Rinotul said.

In a statement the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it was “profoundly saddened by the death,” and renewed its call for the Australian government to take immediate action to avert further tragedy.

UNHCR’s Canberra based deputy regional representative Nai Jit Lam said “the tragic loss of yet another vulnerable person under Australian ‘offshore processing’ again underscores the need for proper care and immediate solutions.”

“With the passage of too many years and the withdrawal or reduction of essential services, the already critical situation for refugees most in need continues to deteriorate,” he said.

“Australia’s responsibility for those who have sought its protection remains unchanged. Our thoughts and condolences are with the man’s family today.”

Intensive support for refugees and asylum-seekers remained desperately needed in both PNG and Nauru, whose governments lacked the means to address growing needs, UNHCR said.

The refugee is the seventh man exiled to PNG by Australia to die on Manus island since 2013.

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