Tuesday March 28 2006 7:45am WST
For Immediate Release
Let the Diplomatic Row with Indonesia Rip, especially over Indonesia's threat to stop cooperating with Australia over what one Indonesian spokesman last week termed 'illegal migrants'," says WA Rights group Project SafeCom this morning.
"We would welcome one almighty row between Indonesia and Australia over the repelled asylum seekers, who in accordance with international law sought to enter Australia. Four years ago more than four hundred men, women and many children ended up in camps run by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) at Mataram on Lombok, when they were pushed back by the Australian Navy or by Indonesian operatives working under cover on behalf of Australia."
"Maybe Indonesia should stop cooperating with Australia by stopping the practice of 'warehousing' asylum seekers for Australia and now deliver the remaining about seventy men, women and children on Australia's doorstop or fly them to Australia and then present the Bill to our country," Mr Smit said.
"Project SafeCom would encourage an immediate end to the practice of Indonesian warehousing of asylum seekers on Australia's behest, we would want to see an end to the recruiting and payment in cash or bribes of Indonesian operatives, whether they are part of the Indonesian Army or Police force, or Indonesian Immigration officials who identify and disrupt groups of asylum seekers, or boats with alleged people smugglers intending to reach Australian shores."
"Nearly five years after the infamous 2001 Federal election, won by the Howard government over disruption of boats with asylum seekers, both through activities of the maritime Repel and Deny taskforce "Operation Relex", and the use of shady operatives recruited by Indonesia on behalf of Australia, the untold misery of the hundreds of asylum seekers "pushed back" by Australia continues on Indonesian Islands," said spokesman Jack H Smit.
"The absolute majority of the several hundred asylum claimants, clearly identified as Australia's responsibility both through the Australian monies provided by the Howard government to IOM, and by Australian UNHCR representatives, have been assessed as refugees - if only because many of them were spouses and children of refugees already living in Australia - while 67 remain at the Lombok camp." (more details below)
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
The IOM Camp on Lombok:
Advocates report: "Some of these people have protection status on the island, meaning that they are not to be returned to their homelands as UNHCR deems it too dangerous."
"It is my understanding that none of the people on Lombok have been granted refugee status as those granted refugee status are sent to Jakarta to wait for a country to accept them. It is also my understanding that most of the asylum seekers who were granted refugee status had legal representation. The ones who were not granted refugee status did not know how to represent themselves."
Afghans: 45 (36 made it to Ashmore Reef and were towed back to Indonesian waters by the Australian Navy, the other 9 were already in Lombok)
Three Afghan men have now married Indonesian women, all have had babies, with one couple having twins.
Iraqis: 31 (all made it to Ashmore Reef and were towed back to Indonesian waters by the Australian Navy.)
Four of the Iraqi men have married Indonesian women and two couples have had a baby.
Vietnamese: 16 (were intercepted by Indonesian police before setting out for Australia.)
Two of the Vietnamese men have married Indonesian women and both couples have had a baby.
The Indonesian women are living in the camp with their husbands, but are not provided for by IOM. It is unclear whether the babies are considered Indonesian or not by authorities, and whether they are provided for.
There is a number of school-aged children among the asylum seekers. They can attend Indonesian schools but their families have to pay for schooling themselves. This could be difficult because the adult asylum seekers are not allowed to work, IOM help out a little with stationary.