It has been more than two months since the Indonesian Navy intercepted a refugee boat with 254 people heading to Australia. Until now this boat has been kept in Merak by the Indonesian authorities. The refugees have made it clear that all they want is respect for their fundamental rights. They are not asking for anything more than a guarantee to live in a safe place and to safeguard the future of their kids. It is absolutely inhumane to deny this right to anybody. These refugees were fleeing one of the most horrific conflicts in the world and have gone through a horrendous journey to get this far. They believed they would have a decent life once they get out of Sri Lanka. But their suffering continues.
Their boat is very small and in no way can accommodate 254 people. It was hard enough travelling in that small boat, but now they have been forced to live on it for more than two months. There is only one toilet. The health conditions of many people is deteriorating. Many are suffering from diarrhoea. The health of the children is at risk. Recently a ten year old girl and her mum were treated inappropriately by one of the Indonesian officers who threatened them with harsh actions if they openly talked about it. The officers have refused to take another nine year old to hospital despite a high temperature and desperate pleas from the parents. The refugees have to engage in a bitter battle with the guards just to call an ambulance or to arrange for seriously ill patients to be taken to hospital. Proper medical facilities are not arranged by the Indonesian government or any humanitarian agencies.
The food they are given is of a very low standard and it is only one type of food they are asked to eat every day. The refugees have been horrified and shocked by their treatment. After suffering for so long they hoped for a decent life. Now they fear that they will end up in Indonesian detention centres which is as bad as the Sri Lankan government’s detention centres. Now the Christmas holidays are nearing they fear that the lack of media and international attention will be used by the Indonesian authorities to harm them.
The refugees are in dire need of help with aid and solidarity action. We appeal to all who care about human rights to contact us to organise bit of relief through the Indonesian trade unions and other activists in Indonesia. Any help will be much appreciated. We cannot let these refugees suffer more. Please contact us immediately if you can help in any way.
Fund needed urgently
Tamil Solidarity has not raised enough funds as we do not accept any fund from Big business of Government bodies. So far we have been doing all the work based on immense sacrifice of some of its members. In order to carry on our work we urgently need all our members to contribute to the work.
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