Navy errors blamed for fire on SIEV 36

Lex Hall and Jamie Walker; 26/1/10; (2 Items)

Desperate asylum-seekers intercepted at sea by the navy were allowed to keep cigarette lighters and matches, even though one man was seen to make a “throat-slashing gesture” in the chaos before their boat exploded, killing five and injuring many more. Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh was told yesterday, at the opening of an inquest into the tragedy off Ashmore Island last April, that “a level of confusion … and lack of control” allowed the boat to be sabotaged and set ablaze by either its Indonesian crew or the 47 predominantly Afghan asylum-seekers packed on board. A navy requirement for its own personnel to be rescued ahead of the boat people may have contributed to the death toll, the coroner heard. In one case, a distressed asylum-seeker was pushed away from a rescue launch to allow RAAF Corporal Sharon Jager to instead be dragged to safety.

See:;; Australian of the Year pick Pat McGorry to take fight to Kevin Rudd; Caroline Overington; 26/1/10;; Fine words but no action on Christmas Island; Linda Briskman, Susie Latham & Chris Goddard; 25/1/10;; Professor criticises detention; Tony Wright; 26/1/10;

Tamil asylum seeker to give birth on crowded ship
Tom Allard; 26/1/10
A heavilly pregnant asylum seeker says she is prepared to have her baby on board the crowded vessel where about 250 Sri Lankans have been engaged in a stand-off with authorities at the Indonesian port of Merak. After more than month living in the jungles of Malaysia waiting for a boat, and then more than three months in the squalid conditions at port in Merak, Piramila Vijeratnan yesterday remained defiant. ”I’m very worried about the baby being born on the boat but I don’t want it to be born in Indonesia,” she said. ”I don’t want to live in detention. I want freedom for my children.”