Another asylum boat heads for Christmas Island

Debbie Guest; 29/12/09; (3 Items)

More asylum-seekers are on their way to Christmas Island’s overstretched detention facilities after authorities intercepted a boat carrying nine people off Western Australia’s north coast on Boxing Day. The six asylum-seekers and three crew will be transferred by Customs to the Indian Ocean territory where more than 100 asylum-seekers have been forced to sleep in tents. The boat was intercepted by HMAS Maitland around 12.20am on Boxing Day and is the 56th to arrive in Australian waters this year. It brings the total number of asylum-seekers to have entered Australian waters this year to 2600. A further 129 crew members have also arrived. A spokesman for Border Protection Command said it was not yet known what country the nine came from. All nine will undergo security, identity and health checks when they arrive on Christmas Island, which could be as early as today.

See:; Afghans threaten a hunger strike; Simon Kearney; 28/12/09; See:

Land without checkpoints feels free to Tamil refugees

Frah Farouque; 28/12/09

”It feels like freedom, now,” says Sanmugam Sarpatheepan. Around him are the markers of his new life; the modest home in Melbourne’s west is well maintained but has few personal touches, except for a couple of unwashed teacups in the kitchen. Mr Sarpatheepan, 25, and his intellectually impaired housemate, Kanapathippillai Thajaparan, 24, are no ordinary new arrivals: they are the only Sri Lankans off the customs ship Oceanic Viking to have been resettled in Australia after the October stand-off involving 78 asylum seekers. The duo, who are distant relatives, landed at Melbourne Airport on December 20 from Jakarta, but their route here has been tumultuous.


 No comfort for Catholic refugees


What is the Catholic Church in Australia doing to secure the spiritual, emotional and physical health of 25 Catholic Tamil asylum-seekers on board a vessel at Merak in Indonesia? They are part of a group of 246 people on a vessel designed to carry 50. They have been stuck on it for three months and are the group that prompted Kevin Rudd’s ill-fated demarche to Indonesia’s President. The asylum-seekers rotting in Merak are victims of Rudd’s failed diplomacy. His response has been to turn his back on them and pretend they do not exist. Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell have done the same.  It should not be necessary to single out one group on that boat for attention. But if by doing so it hastens the amelioration of all, then so be it. The Catholics are desperate for pastoral care and on Christmas Eve one of their number, Charles Jacob, the father of three, died for want of medical care. Senior religious and political figures who claim strong commitment and passion for their faith have demonstrated nothing but hypocrisy. Bruce Haigh; Mudgee, NSW

– Has any religious leader in this country spoken out in recent weeks on behalf these Tamils in Indonesia? If religious leaders are only talking piously about Jesus in the manger without looking beyond it to the unheard and unseen cries of people who seek our assistance, then our celebration of Christmas is a sham. Claude Mostowik, Erskineville, NSW