Jakarta fearful of asylum-seeker fallout

Stephen Fitzpatrick; 7/11/09; (3 Items)

Kevin Rudd might have been given another week to solve his Oceanic Viking public relations disaster, but that doesn’t mean Indonesia is very happy about it.  As the Australian Customs vessel with its cargo of 78 Sri Lankans sits in waters off Tanjung Pinang and the monsoon makes its first early forays across the Riau archipelago, there is extreme disquiet in Jakarta. The Foreign Ministry’s director for diplomatic security, Sujatmiko, held nothing back when he declared Indonesia had been “more than patient” on the standoff and warned of the danger that “an issue this small could damage the relationship between the two countries”.Sujatmiko spent years living and studying international relations in Australia, and received a PhD at the Australian National University. The softly spoken and cultured diplomat knows exactly the impact of his words on an Australian audience. He and his colleagues feel they have done everything possible to honour the commitment made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Rudd in Jakarta almost three weeks ago to take the Tamil asylum-seekers, after their boat was rescued in Indonesia’s zone of responsibility.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/jakarta-fearful-of-the-fallout-from-sri-lankan-asylum-seeker-issue/story-e6frg6nf-1225795200874; Little incentive to stop the asylum-seeker boats; Amanda Hodge; 7/11/09; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/little-incentive-to-stop-the-asylum-seeker-boats/story-e6frg6nf-1225795200959; Tamil spokesman ‘Alex’ a smuggler, says Sri Lankan government; 7/11/09; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/tamil-spokesman-alex-a-smuggler-says-sri-lankan-government/story-e6frg6nf-1225795200705; Held hostage by the rush to be tough; Mike Steketee; 7/11/09; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/held-hostage-by-the-rush-to-be-tough/story-e6frg6zo-1225795218655

Prime Minister must get tough
Despite identifying himself as a professor in anthropology, Michael Roberts (“Taken in by Tamil tall tales”, Commentary, 4/11) fails to describe the holistic nature of Tamil migration. While touching upon the under-representation and discrimination towards Tamils in the past, Roberts’ piece ignores the state-sponsored violence in Sri Lanka that continues to oppress Tamils today.  Nearly 300,000 Tamils are held against their will in government-run internment camps. Whether the recent asylum-seekers originate from these camps or not, their mere existence is evidence that structural and cultural violence continues to be perpetrated against the Tamils.  Showing little interest in responding to its crisis, the Sri Lankan government has instead chosen to revel in the glory of censoring its human rights emergency.  With the plight of the Tamil people systematically concealed from the international community, it’s sadly ironic that Roberts suggests “Australians engaged in public debate about Sri Lanka need to be better informed”.  In responding to his suggestion, I would say Roberts’s gross misrepresentation of Tamil refugees succeeds in broadcasting a structural culture of fear and loathing towards the marginalised people of Sri Lanka. Gobie Rajalingam, Cherrybrook, NSW
See: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/letters/index.php/ theaustralian/comments/prime_minister_must_get_tough/; Taken in by Tamil tall tales Michael Roberts; 4/11/09; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/taken-in-by-tamil-tall-tales/story-e6frg6zo-1225794053578

Death boat survivors detained
Yuko Narushima & Tom Allard; 7/11/09
Traumatised survivors of a boat that capsized on the way to Australia last weekend were detained on Christmas Island yesterday. The 27 Sri Lankan asylum seekers arrived aboard the LNG Pioneer, a tanker from the Bahamas, after the men’s own boat sank last Sunday, killing 12. Western Australian police investigators and forensics were on the island to begin interviewing survivors about how it sank with two vessels nearby. Only one body was recovered, while the 11 missing were presumed dead.
See: http://www.theage.com.au/national/death-boat-survivors-detained-20091106-i290.html; Deadline looms for negotiators on board Viking; Tom Allard & Yuko Narushima; 7/11/09; http://www.smh.com.au/world/deadline-looms-for-negotiators-on-board-viking-20091106-i25i.html