October 20, 2015 | the age
Members of Dandenong’s Hazara community gathered in parkland in Dandenong on Tuesday to pay their respects to Afghan asylum seeker Khodayar Amini, who died after setting himself on fire on Sunday.
A dozen men and women, including several community leaders, laid flowers around a burnt patch of grassland where the 30-year-old died 48 hours earlier.
The burnt area at Robert Reserve was just 20 metres from a popular walking path and several sports ovals and is clearly visible from the walking track.
Most who came to pay tribute had never met Mr Amini, who is believed to have been living in the area for only a short time, but they expressed their shock and anger at the senseless death.
John Golzari, a representative from the Dandenong Hazara community, said locals were shocked by the tragedy.
“We came here to pay our tributes and respects to this death … to tragically end his life like this, it shouldn’t have happened. It’s tragic. It’s sad and it shouldn’t have happened under our government’s watch.
“It’s a very sad day today. People have been shocked and the biggest concern for myself is that there are 31,000 people in the same situation on bridging visas and some of them might be considering doing the same thing. We don’t want to see this happen again.”
Local resident Zakia Baig, a Hazara Pakistani, who has been living in Australia for nine years, said she had come to the site to see if what she had heard about the shocking death was true.
“I received a phone call about this and I came here to know there was a person who set himself on fire. It is hard to believe,” she said.
Ms Baig, who was visibly upset, also expressed her anger at the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers.
“I believe the immigration has caused him to set himself on fire … It shows the enormous pressure he was under. How can somebody be right mentally when they get kept in a limbo knowing nothing about their future,” said Ms Baig.
Mr Amini had been released from the Yongah Hill detention centre in Western Australia on a bridging visa and had been living in Sydney before arriving in Dandenong.
Ms Baig said: “This is a shame for the nation, this is a shame for the government that they can’t provide safety to a human being that is asking for safety, for security, for a second chance for their life. It is insane, inhuman.”
It emerged Mr Amini had been charged by NSW police with making death threats and intimidating people in August.
The charges related to “an alleged offensive and threatening phone call received by an organisation”, a police spokeswoman said.
Mr Amini was due to appear in Burwood Local Court on November 10.
It is understood Immigration Department officials were seeking to interview him in relation to the charges, to determine if he should remain living in the community on a bridging visa.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young on Tuesday said she had been told Mr Amini’s “fear of being returned to immigration detention and sent back to Afghanistan drove him to take this extreme action”.
“What is clear is that the government’s cruel treatment of refugees is having disastrous effects for people both in detention and in the community,” she said.
“There needs to be a full, independent investigation into this case so that we can understand why this young man didn’t receive the support that he so clearly needed.”
For help or information call Lifeline 131 114, beyondblue 1300 224 636, MensLine 1300 789 978.