Home » News

Tamil Tigers Sri Lanka Kevin Rudd – smh

[MISC, Sunday, 1 November 2009 11:12 No Comment]

MOST of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers in a stand-off with Australian authorities off the coast of the Riau Islands have been living in Indonesia for years, providing the Rudd Government with leverage to convince Indonesia to take them back.

Australian officials see the development as a possible circuit-breaker to the two-week impasse that has caused the Government much political and diplomatic anguish.

In written messages thrown off the Oceanic Viking, the Australian Customs ship housing 78 ethnic Tamils for the past two weeks, asylum seekers said they had been living in Indonesia for up to five years and had been accepted by the United Nations office in Jakarta as genuine refugees. They said they hired a people smuggler out of their frustration that no country would accept them.

”For four to five years we waited until we are tired before departing illegally by boat,” read the message thrown to The Sun-Herald, written in Indonesian. It insisted the Sri Lankans had arrived in Indonesia ”normally” some years back.

Part of the Indonesian justification for not taking the Sri Lankans is that they are refusing to be registered by immigration officials. But it appears, they have already been registered because the UN High Commissioner for Refugees does not process asylum-seekers unless they have been registered by Indonesia first.

After the Australian Navy picked up the Tamils in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone two weeks ago, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd believed he had an agreement with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for Indonesia to take them. But the deal has unravelled in the past week.

The asylum seekers said Australian officials had told them they would ”like to have us leave the boat this week”. But they are refusing to budge and have pleaded for international sympathy.

Indonesia says it will not remove the Sri Lankans by force and has given Australia until Friday to convince them to voluntarily set foot in Indonesia.

Yesterday senior Australian embassy officials boarded the Oceanic Viking and some of its crew were replaced.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.