Thursday November 19, 2009 7:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"The Prime Minister should be subject to a Senate Inquiry over his handling of the various asylum boat debacles of the last month, which include reports that the Oceanic Viking was directed away from Australian waters after rescuing asylum seekers in Australian waters, raising the prospect he may have lied to Parliament," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
The Greens should link with the Liberal-National opposition and others to demand answers in a Senate Inquiry. There are some very serious questions to answer by the Prime Minister," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Indonesian Air Vice Marshall Sagom Tamboen told the Jakarta Globe on 29 October that the Oceanic Viking had intercepted the asylum seekers in Australian waters near Christmas Island, in this directly contradicting the Prime Minister. If what Mr Tamboen said, is true, then the Prime Minister has lied to the Parliament. The Globe quotes the Indonesian Air Marshall as saying:
"I wonder why the vessel, which intercepted the asylum seekers near Christmas Island, carried them into Indonesian waters?" Air Vice Marshall Sagom Tamboen said. "[The refugees] only want asylum in Australia. It's as if [the Australian government] are trying to shift responsibility to other countries."
"The Prime Minister also needs to answer why Australian funds given to Indonesia to assist in the fight against people smugglers has resulted in Indonesian police, in a vessel paid for by Australia, using guns and ammunition paid for by Australia, fired the first shots not at people smugglers but at asylum seekers, causing serious injuries to two of the asylum seekers on an intercepted boat."
"There are also serious questions about the circumstances of this interception, which was claimed to have taken place in International waters - making Indonesia into a nation that acted outside any authority. Why was there not an outrage about this issue? Does the Prime Minister give his silent approval to raid ships in International waters? Is this the new approach, which may soon also become a strategy for Australia?"
"There are many questions around the attitude, quiet agreements with Indonesia, the lack of answers by the Prime Minister, and his nasty attitude around asylum seekers, in relation to the Oceanic Viking, the boat still moored in the Merak harbour and the vessel that was aggressively dealt with by Indonesia using equipment funded by Australia. The Prime Minister should answer them all," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]