THE GOOD NEWS: The survivors are being sent back to Indonesia, NOT Australia. In the past, attempts to send survivors back to Indonesia have proved difficult, or even failed.
Asylum Welfare seekers have protested or threatened self-harm in response to being sent back to a Muslim country.
*Human traffickers have started intentionally sinking boats, or sending out fake SOS calls about Muslim invader boats sinking so they will be ‘rescued’ by the Australian Navy.
ABC Indonesia’s search and rescue authority says 54 Muslim asylum seekers who were pulled from the water after their boat sank are being transferred to the country’s mainland. Dozens of people are still missing after the boat, bound for Australia, sank near Indonesia’s Sunda Strait two days ago. The boat was believed to have up to 150 people on board.
There was a standoff for a while, and the asylum seekers were saying, “We don’t want to be here”. They even said to the authorities here, “You know, you didn’t come to rescue us. It was Australia that saved us, so you’re not here to help us. So, why do we have to come to Indonesia?”
They’re also concerned because Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, and it doesn’t offer any protection for asylum seekers. They know that their fate now is to go into Indonesian immigration detention.
They said that they didn’t receive any medical attention or any food on board the Australian Navy ship HMAS Maitland. But that was because they didn’t have enough food to go around and the Navy only had enough food to support themselves, and that they didn’t have any proper medical officers or doctors on board to provide any sort of medical assistance to these guys.
Many of them had cuts and grazes and scrapes and some of them were sunburnt and really, sort of, looked… you know, in pretty poor condition. Some of them passed out on the deck of the boat when they arrived, so they clearly… they were taken away for medical attention here in Merak, but you know, medical attention in Indonesia is not what you’d expect in Australia.
So most of them have been taken to a hotel which will act as a pseudo-immigration detention centre for the time being until they can be transferred to a facility here. In Indonesia, the immigration detention facility is straining under the pressure of the crackdown on phony asylum seekers.
We were surprised that Indonesia was willing to accept them, because normally Indonesia doesn’t really want to have a bar of them. They see them as a problem here and a problem they’d rather be rid of, so they’re quite happy to see them taken to Christmas Island. In the past, this year when people have been saved in Indonesian waters, the Navy has taken them straight to Christmas Island.
A Navy official here told us on the sidelines that the reason they accepted them is really to make it look like they were helping. They didn’t want to… it was sort of about image; they didn’t want to be seen to you know not, sort of, respect human rights or want to look after and save these people, but ultimately it was Australian Navy officials who ordered them off the boat.
The asylum seekers said they were initially told by the Navy personnel that they would be taken to Darwin but instead they were transferred on to an Indonesian ship and told they had to get on to it, because they were in Indonesian waters.