Sunday, September 29, 2013

Indonesia military implicated in deaths of asylum seekers as Scott Morrison rejects survivors' claims

Updated 52 minutes ago
Members of the Indonesian military have been implicated in a fatal people-smuggling operation that may have killed up to 30 children.
As many as 50 people are either dead or still missing, most of them children.
Another 10 bodies have been recovered, lifting the death toll to 31, with search and rescue operations been suspended until this morning.
Those who did survive are helping Indonesian and Australian investigators to identify the people responsible.
The names of two key smugglers have emerged: Abu Saleh and another man called Abu Ali.
And embarrassingly, local authorities have again been implicated as playing a key role in getting the passengers to the boat.
Survivors said Indonesian soldiers helped ferry them to the coast where the doomed boat was waiting.
"The army took us," one survivor said.
"The army was driving the cars."
Passengers recall doomed voyage
The passengers said engine trouble began on Thursday and the boat started taking water, forcing them to turn back to Indonesia.
Eventually, the motor pumping water off the boat ran out of petrol.
The boat then hit rough seas and capsized only 50 metres from the shore.
Survivors said they rang Australian authorities for help on Thursday when both the boat's engines broke.
The boat just flipped and we start to swim, and [those] who can swim survived.
Shipwreck survivor
"I called the Australian Government like 12 times. I told them we have 35 children," one survivor said.
"We don't want to go to Australia, just take us out of the water.
"We don't want to die. It's our mistake, not the children's mistake."
He said help was promised but in 24 hours nobody came.
By Indonesia correspondent George Roberts for ABC Australia

1 comment:

  1. The Jakarta Post [website]

    The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) has allegedly been receiving illegal funds from the Australian government with regard to the handling of refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East.

    “It is presumed that Basarnas has received illegal funds from and worked for the Australian government to bring asylum seekers and refugees from the Middle East ashore in Indonesia,” said Hikmahanto Juwana, a professor of international law from the University of Indonesia’s School of Law, in Jakarta on Sunday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

    Earlier, 21 undocumented immigrants from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and several African countries died after their vessel sank off Cikole beach in Kampung Genggong, Agrabinta district, Cianjur, on Friday, apparently while en route to Australia. Twenty four migrants who survived the sinking are currently being accommodated at the Hotel Sarah in Sukabumi.

    Hikmahanto alleged that Basarnas as a government institution had become “a paid agent” tasked with handling Australian problems. He said the entire process starting from the discovery of the Middle Eastern migrants to their handover by the Australian Navy to Basarnas was very questionable.

    “What a stupid thing for Basarnas to accept the refugees and asylum seekers from the Australian Navy under the pretext that they were found in Indonesian waters. It reflects stupidity, not hospitality,” said Hikmahanto.

    He said the agency’s decision to accept the migrants would be understandable only if the people concerned were Indonesians.

    Hikmahanto said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should seek clarification from Basarnas on the issue and the House of Representatives had to summon the agency for an explanation.

    “The Corruption Eradication Commission should investigate the possible transfer of illegal funds from the Australian government to Basarnas if necessary,” he said. (ebf)