Protesting Iranian refugee dies in Australia

An Iranian refugee who set himself on fire in protest against Australia’s offshore refugee resettlement programme has died, officials said on Friday.

Australia maintains harsh boarder protection policies, transferring “illegal maritime arrivals” to one of two offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea or Nauru, Xinhua news agency reported.

The 23-year-old man set himself on fire earlier this week in protest against his treatment at Nauru which has often been criticised for its lacklustre conditions and reports of sexual assault. The incident occurred in the presence of visiting UN officials.

After being transferred to Australia for emergency medical treatment, “the man died in a Brisbane Hospital,” an Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokesperson said.

“The department expresses its sympathies to his wife, family and friends.”

The man’s death has added fuel to public criticism and political scrutiny of Australia’s harsh policies in the run up to a highly contested election following a Papua New Guinea Supreme Court decision declaring Australia’s centre on Manus Island as illegal.