Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Immigrants drown seeking asylum in Australia

This is the scene of a human rights crime committed against immigrants seeking asylum in Australia--which has draconian & racist immigration policies. Indonesia has become a main transit point for those escaping war in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Sri Lanka & attempting to get to Australia. There have been several incidents of refugee ships sinking or getting detained by authorities over the past many months. Last week, an Indonesian rescue ship towed in a boat with 43 refugees from Sri Lanka which had broken down nine days earlier. Those on board ( which included children) were dehydrated & starving since they had run out of food & water. There was no report but they will certainly be put in detention for eventual deportation back to Sri Lanka.

In the incident shown here, these young men are survivors from a sunken ship last week--150 immigrants from Afghanistan were on a rickety wooden fishing boat which broke up & sank off the coast of Indonesia. Survivors say the boat began to leak about 8 nautical miles off the Indonesian island of Java & sent out a distress signal. Indonesia sent out rescue crews but in a colossal instance of criminal neglect, abandoned the search after ten hours saying they could find no sign of a sunken vessel. The survivors who had each paid over US$5,000 to make the dangerous voyage, described watching family members drown as the crew donned life vests & swam away. Fifty people were eventually rescued by a passing cargo ship after being in the water for 2 days; 100 are certain to have drowned, including women & children, but only one body has been found. Survivors claim five ships passed them & refused their pleas for help. One man told reporters that one boat came close enough so the crew could tell them they would not pick them up. After survivors are processed by Indonesian authorities, they will be placed in detention. The Australian government has already refused them asylum & insisted they be returned to Indonesia. Immigration is a human right & those governments that so flagrantly disrespect human life should not just be prosecuted in an international court; they should be thrown out of power.  (Photo by Associated Press)

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