Vale Mohammad Mohsen

A 33-year-old Bangladeshi asylum seeker, Mohammad Mohsin, has committed suicide, at a mosque in Lakemba, on Sunday, 20 October. Mohammad arrived by boat in 2013, but was only recently allowed to lodge his protection application. His initial application was rejected, but he has lodged an appeal with the Federal Circuit Court.

Like so many others on a bridging visa, Mohammad had no income and did not have the right to work. He was destitute and had become homeless, relying on charity and support from others in the Bangladeshi community. After being supported for many months by friends, he had spent the last few months going from couch to couch.

Friends said that his precarious situation had weighed heavily on him and that he had spoken of ending his life even several months ago. He also felt guilty for relying on others in his community for support.

Mohammad’s death comes only days after another suicide death in Brisbane of an ex Manus refugee.

There are thousands of asylum seekers in desperate circumstances, in limbo, on bridging visas in the community, living without work rights, trying to survive with the support of friends or their own community members.

“Mohammad’s death is yet another tragedy that reveals the government’s failed asylum process. His death has caused a great deal of distress throughout the refugee community,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“There are thousands of potential Mohammads left waiting for many years, forced to live without support, and victims of a fast-track asylum processing system that is designed to fail refugees.

“The government has inflicted an enormous burden on asylum seekers and the legal and community groups that struggle to support them. Fast track processing must be scrapped and all people on bridging visas must have the right to work and income support for those who are unable to support themselves.

“The government’s punitive anti-refugee regime is killing people – offshore and onshore.”

The Refugee Action Coalition has called a rally on Saturday 9 November, 2pm, Sydney Town Hall to “Save Medevac” and to call for refugees to get permanent visas not temporary protection visas. 

Report from Ian Rintoul

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