Wednesday August 13 2003 17:30am WST
For Immediate Release
An asylum seeker who arrived in Australia with the help of people smugglers who brought them to Australia, using the Palapa - the boat rescued by Norwegian captain Arne Rinnan's ship the MV TAMPA, just before the 2001 Federal election, has revealed how Indonesian Immigration Officials worked hand-in-hand with people smugglers, bringing people to Australia.
The stunning revelation comes just three days after a Darwin Court was told that Indonesian Police bribed asylum seekers with large sums of money - as widely reported by the Australian media [see online resources below].
The young man, an avid reader while in detention on Nauru, and at present about to board a flight to return to Kabul, Afghanistan, has released the entire story of his journey from Afghanistan, while it was under the reign of The Taliban - including details of his attempts to seek assistance - to no avail - from UNHCR and IOM in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In his story, posted at the Project SafeCom website, the man writes:
"In the evening of 21 January 2001 I arrived in the airport of the Indonesian capital Jakarta. When I entered in the hall an officer came and asked my name he took my passport and went in his office beside the hall. Ten minutes later he gave my passport back and told me to cross the door so I came out of the airport. I saw an Indonesian man calling me so I met him. After a few minutes walking I met other men who were smugglers. I saw another 29 Afghans in the cars that had just come out of the airport before me."
IOM, UNHCR: BREAKING PROMISES, TAKING NO ACTION
The former Nauru detainee also revealed that UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) in Indonesia broke agreements to return for further interviews and assessment of asylum seekers. He writes in his story:
"UNHCR came on 8 April  so they interviewed us. The interviews finished in 15 days. UNHCR went back to Jakarta promising that they would announce the result in four of five weeks. They never came back."
"Whenever we contacted they said they could come next week, next week changed into next month and next month changed into next three months but UNHCR did not come. [....] The last two months I was the interpreter of the group. I talked with UNHCR on the telephone and explained our situation. I asked them when they would come, they people were crying and some were nearly to die. The officer said "let them cry and let them die, we will come anytime". After a few days I tried to talk to UNHCR again they did not talk. After asking my name and group name they stopped talking. IOM (International Organisation for Migration) did the same."
MALARIA, FOOD POISONING IN INDONESIA
The Afghani man revealed in the story also details of many asylum seekers being struck with malaria and food poisoning, and how he himself fell unconscious and was hospitalised.
"Project SafeCom, in this story, only sees confirmed that the story contradicts the 2001 Howard government election strategy, where Australians were told that those who chose people-smugglers are rich, queue-jumping people, or inferior people, not worthy of entering Australia as asylum seekers, in all respects."
"This man's story confirms the desperation of asylum seekers from the middle east, who did everything they possibly could do via legal channels to reach Australia. If UNHCR and IOM, the agencies officially charged with the worldwide regulation of asylum seekers, fail to do their duty and abandon their asylum seeker assessment processes, only one option is left to people who fled their home country: take up the offer of people-smugglers."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
New Haven NSW
[phone number posted]
Indonesian police bribed: Asylum seeker
The West Australian, 11 August 2003
INDONESIAN coastal police demanded a $US20,000 ($30,730) bribe from a boatload of asylum seekers headed for Australia, a Darwin court was told today.