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Tamil asylum seekers

October 26, 2009

The Age: When the boat comes in

Colleen Ricci, 26 October 2009

The long-simmering asylum-seeker debate boiled over when a boat carrying 255 Tamils bound for Australia was redirected to Indonesia.

What happened in the Sunda Strait?

An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country of origin in search of a haven and recognition as a refugee.

A phone call from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono resulted in the interception of a boat carrying 255 Tamil asylum seekers by the Indonesian Navy in the Sunda Strait. Though on its way to Christmas Island, where Australia has a large, custom-built detention centre, the boat was diverted to the Indonesian port of Merak, in western Java.

These Tamils from northern Sri Lanka, who included 27 women and 31 children, pleaded with Mr Rudd to accept them in Australia. They refused to disembark for fear of being deported or sent to allegedly overcrowded and harsh Indonesian detention centres, where they could face many years before being resettled elsewhere. More

The Age: Green urges sanctions against Sri Lanka

AAP, 25 October 2009

Greens Leader Bob Brown has urged the federal government to consider sanctions against Sri Lanka amid concerns about the treatment of the nation’s Tamil population.

More than 250,000 people remain in camps in Sri Lanka after being displaced as a result of a long-standing civil war, which came to an end earlier this year.

Australia should be helping to stem the flow of asylum seekers by ramping up pressure on Sri Lankan authorities, Senator Brown said.

“There should be a lot more pressure on the Sri Lankan authorities to be treating the Tamil populations with a great deal more decency than what we’re seeing at the moment,” Senator Brown told the Nine Network.

“We need to see more action from Australian governments at flashpoints in our own region if we are going to stop this pressure for people to be leaving boats and seeking asylum here in Australia,” he said. More

Brisbane Times: An agonising wait

David Marr, 23 October 2009

She’ll never eat Magi chicken noodle soup again. “All we had was one cup of water and one cup of Magi noodle soup per day, but everyone was sick all the time.” In a tin shed on Christmas Island, this young Tamil was taking a break in a session called to help women cope with the stress of detention.

I never knew her name. She arrived in late June, one of 193 Tamils on the biggest boatload of asylum seekers to reach the island for eight years. The make-up of the place was changing. Christmas Island was once full of Afghans. Now at least half those held on that rock – nearly 600 of about 1100 detainees – are Tamils fleeing post-civil war Sri Lanka. More

PSLweb: Australia unleashes racism against Tamil refugees

Amanda Todd, 25 October 2009

In a blatant act of racism, the Australian government, on Oct. 18, intercepted and turned away a boat with 78 Tamil asylum-seeking refugees. The refugees have been sent to Indonesia. Earlier this month, Australia diverted another ship with over 250 refugees to Indonesia. Refugees on that boat jumped over the side, fearing that the Indonesian government would deport them back to Sri Lanka.Numerous other ships have also been turned away. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called the Tamils, who are escaping from government concentration camps in Sri Lanka, “illegal immigrants” who are trying to take advantage of Australia’s “generosity.” More

Samantha Maiden, 26 October 2009

A BOATLOAD of 78 asylum-seekers kept in limbo for eight days after they were intercepted by the Australian Navy is now 10 nautical miles off the coast of Indonesia.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told Parliament the Tamils were expected to be transferred to an Indonesian detention centre close to Singapore today.

They were picked up by an Australian Navy vessel in Indonesian waters last week and were ultimately accepted by Indonesian authorities on humanitarian grounds. But after expectations they would be taken to a nearby port they were redirected thousands of kilometres away to a detention centre in Indonesia. More

Ship anchored as asylum seekers wait

Emma Rodgers, 26 october 2009

Asylum seekers on board an Australian Customs vessel anchored off the coast of Indonesia have ended their hunger strike, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor has confirmed.

Mr O’Connor has also revealed that a lone asylum seeker will be taken to Christmas Island after being found by authorities last night on an island in the Torres Strait.

The 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have resumed eating ahead of their arrival at Tanjun Pinang on the island of Bintan later today, after being picked up by the Oceanic Viking in international waters last week.

They will be taken to a detention centre, which is partly funded by Australia, where some detainees allege they were beaten by guards. More

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