Family of deceased detainee wants Australia to repatriate body

4:35 pm on 4 October 2017

The family of the refugee who died this week on Manus Island has been asked by the Australian government for $US6000 to return his body to Sri Lanka.

Rajeev Rajendran

Rajeev Rajendran Photo: Facebook

Rajeev Rajendran, a 32-year-old from the Jaffna region in Tamil Eelam, fled his country after being threatened by the Sri Lankan military.

He was found dead in the Lorengau Hospital laundry early on Monday morning after being admitted last Friday following an act of self harm.

The Tamil Refugee Council of Australia had been in contact with Mr Rajendran's family in Sri Lanka.

It said Mr Rajendran sailed with his girlfriend from Indonesia to Australia to seek asylum in 2013, when he was incarcerated on Manus Island and his partner on Nauru.

The shrine for Rajeev Rajendran at the Manus Island detention centre.

The shrine for Rajeev Rajendran at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: supplied

A spokesperson for the council, Aran Mylavaganam, said Mr Rajendran appeared to have taken his own life after struggling to cope with four years of detention, the constant fear of deportation and news that his father was suffering from cancer.

"He couldn't be there to support his father. He was heart broken and his mental state was not well during the final days," said Mr Mylavaganam.

Mr Rajendran's cousin, Mathy, visited the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka this week where he was told the family would have to pay 900,000 Sri Lankan rupees to have Mr Rajendran's body transported home.

"After all the trauma he was put through, the Australian government now wants to put his grieving family through more," Mathy told the council.

"We don't know how we will find this amount of money."

Mr Mylavaganam agreed the family was not in a position to pay but he said the cost should be borne by Australia.

"They have already lost so much because of the war. They can't afford to pay any money to anyone," he said.

"It is because of Australian government's decision to detain Rajeev on Manus Island which has led to his death. Australia should take responsibility for his death compensate the family and repatriate the body as soon a spossible at no cost to his family."

Manus Island detainees hold a service for Rajeev Rajendran.

Manus Island detainees hold a service for Rajeev Rajendran. Photo: supplied

The police on Manus Island said Mr Rajendran's body would be taken to Port Moresby for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

They said he had previously been arrested for statutory rape in January, a charge advocates said he vigorously denied.

The refugee was due in court the day he died.

The daily protest inside the Manus prison camp did not go ahead on Monday, with detainees instead gathering for a service to honour Mr Rajendran, the 6th detainee to die on Manus Island.