Sunday January 17, 2010 9:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Grave concerns are held amongst refugee advocates and members of the Afghani refugee community about a boat with 102 asylum seekers that set off from Indonesia on October 2 last year but never arrived in Australian waters," WA human rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"We have been informed that amongst the passengers nobody has heard from since their presumed departure, are Hazaras from Afghanistan, including a brother of a young Hazara refugee in Brisbane."
"Queensland Hazara community member Hassan Ghulam (phone 04XX XXX XXX) started receiving messages about the missing boat a few weeks ago and he shares our concern", Mr Jack Smit said.
"Mr Ghulam has told Project SafeCom that community members have travelled to Indonesia on a fact-finding mission, and that they have even contacted sources in Pakistan, but they have been unsuccessful in getting any information about the welfare of the passengers or news of the boat and what happened during the voyage."
"We need to know what happened to this boat and what happened during this voyage," Mr Smit said. "If it was monitored by Indonesia on behalf of the Australian government, we need to know whether it was intercepted by Indonesian authorities."
"Conversely, if its voyage was monitored in Australian waters by Australian maritime and border protection authorities, we need to know what happened to the boat. If the boat perished, we need to hear that from the authorities."
"The Rudd government practices great diligence in reporting when a boat arrives and is intercepted and when its passengers get transported to Christmas Island. We absolutely expect the same rigorous compliance in reporting when something goes wrong with a vessel. No political pain and rancour for the Rudd government would ever justify burying information and maintaining silence and secrecy around a boatload of asylum seekers heading for Australia that perishes," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]