MEDIA RELEASE 19.04.2010
SEVEN MONTH STAND-OFF ENDS AS MERAK ASYLUM SEEKERS FORCED OFF BOAT.
RESETTLEMENT BALL NOW IN KEVIN RUDD’S COURT
Indonesian police and navy personnel this afternoon Jakarta time have acted
to force almost 200 Tamil asylum seekers off their boat at Merak where they
have been since 11 October 2009.
Despite please from the asylums seekers, Indonesian officials refused to
allow legal aid or human rights representatives to supervise the
Refugee supporters and representatives of the human rights commission are
traveling to the Jakarta airport in an effort to gain access to the asylum
seekers before they are moved to Tanjung Pinang.
Around 2pm, the asylum seekers living at the hostel near the wharf gate,
including the pregnant lady from the hostel near the were placed on buses
assembled at the wharf area t be taken to the Jakarta airport. It is
understood that they will be taken by plane to the Tanjung Pinang detention
centre later this afternoon or evening.
The Tanjung Pinang detention centre is the same detention centre that
housed the Tamils from the Oceanic Viking while their refugee claims were
UNHCR has told the asylum seekers that they will begin registering them
within 24 hours of being relocated and will have completed processing
within two months.
Before disembarkation, Indonesian officials also told the asylum seekers
that they would be re-settled within twelve months.
“The seven month stand by the Tamil asylum seekers has been courageous.
Their defiance has killed off the Indonesian solution that Kevin Rudd tried
to establish in October last year when he called the Indonesian president
to intercept the boat. Ironically the Indonesian solution is one of the
factors driving asylum seekers to leave Indonesia,” said Ian Rintoul,
spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“They have defied the odds to ensure their refugee claims were not lost in
the black hole of refugee processing in Indonesia. And the Indonesian
government has made it clear there will be no repeat of either the Oceanic
Viking or the Merak incidents
During the week, a letter from the Australian government was delivered to
the Merak Tamils stating that the freeze on asylum application only applied
in Australian and the best chance for processing and resettlement was to be
had in Indonesia.
“Kevin Rudd now has the chance to live up to the offer in that letter. The
Prime Minister and other ministers have stated that the Australian
government will play a role in the re-settlement of those referred by the
“It should immediately provide assistance to the Indonesian government and
the UNHCR to process outstanding asylum claims in Indonesia and commit to
resettling those found to be refugees.”
MEDIA RELEASE 19.04.2010