Solidarity on social media for refugee who set herself on fire

Australian teenager with friends Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Australians on Twitter have been showing solidarity with Somali refugee Hodan Yasi who is in critical condition

Australian Twitter users have been sharing photos of what they were doing at 19, in solidarity with an asylum seeker who set fire to herself on Monday, apparently in protest at how she was being treated at a detention centre.

Hodan Yasin from Somalia, who is actually 21 despite earlier reports that she was 19, is said to be in a critical condition at a hospital in Brisbane after she self-immolated at an immigration centre on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Refugees who have tried to enter Australia by boat are held at the centre in Nauru before being returned to their country of origin or resettled in a third country. An Australian government inquiry found that conditions in the detention centre were "not adequate, appropriate or safe". The 2015 report said asylum seekers housed on Nauru had to live in cramped, hot and unhygienic dormitories with unclean toilets, limited access to water and low-quality clothing and footwear.

Last week another asylum seeker self-immolated in what appeared to be a protest at the conditions in the Nauru centre. 23 year old Omid Masoumali, who was originally from Iran, died in hospital in Brisbane on Friday.

Image copyright WILLIAM WEST/Getty Images
Image caption Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said refugee advocates encouraged suicide attempts

In response to the most recent incident, Australians and New Zealanders have used social media to share what they were doing at 19 - the age Hodan Yasin was initially reported to be. "At #only19 I was holidaying with my family, spending time with friends, imagining the many lives I have the freedom to live. This must end," tweeted Kylie Wrigley. "At #only19 I was making bad hair choices and a few bad life choices - but I knew I had a choice, I had hope," wrote Ali Atkinson-Phillip.

Thousands of people also used the hashtag #BringThemHere in reaction to the news. For example, Elizabeth Clark said "She (Hodan) was a child when she came to us for help… We locked up a child for so long that she set herself on fire. #Nauru #BringThemHere".

The Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton blamed refugee advocates for the situation. In a speech on Monday, he claimed advocates encourage asylum seekers "to engage in behaviours they believe will pressure the government to bring them to Australia" and he said that the recent suicide attempts were an extension of that.

Blog by Kate Lamble

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