Nov 7, 2011

The consequences of turning boats back: SIEV towback cases

Twenty-seven people are feared dead after an boat packed with asylum seekers bound for Australia sank off the coast of Indonesia last week.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

Twenty-seven people are feared dead after a boat packed with asylum seekers bound for Australia sank off the coast of Indonesia last week.

It’s the latest in a significant number of unseaworthy boats packed with people who have risked — and lost — their lives in an attempt to reach Australia. The government claims the Malaysia agreement is the answer to stop people risking their lives in a boat in order to claim asylum.  Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has refused to support the Malaysia deal but routinely promises to re-implement the Pacific Solution if elected prime minister. As part of his asylum-seeker policy, Abbott declares that boats should be sent back to Indonesia: “… it should be an option to turn the boats around where it is safe to do so. The Navy’s done it before, it can do it again”.

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36 thoughts on “The consequences of turning boats back: SIEV towback cases

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    Perhaps you could read Dark Victory by David Marr and Marian Wilkinson because most of the crap you have written here did not happen but 7 people did die after we returned them to Indonsia.

    4 Corners also did an excellent story about it in 2002. And has mountains of information without asking the imbeciles at the navy.

    There is something forgotten among this horror and brutality – we are not talking about fucking boats, we are talking about men, women and kids.

    In response to those on the Oceanic Viking there was this exchange pointing out the law.

    L&C 122 Senate Monday, 8 February 2010
    which you sighted this boat but surely you are able to tell me at what point you believed, or you were given direction, that it was not your responsibility anymore.
    Mr Carmody—It is a bit hard to talk about responsibility. Ultimately Border Protection Command can only intercept vessels on the contiguous zone around Australia, which is about 20 nautical miles around Australian territory. So to that extent it was a long way away from being there. But we do operate with the Australian Federal Police, intelligence agencies and so on, as I mentioned before, to support disruption of ventures that are potentially seeking to come to Australia.”

    Now once people are in the 20nm zone and claim asylum we have to hear their claims by law and cannot expel them to any place and the AFP have zero legal right to be stopping and jailing anyone in any country ever.

    It’s called indirect refoulement because Indonesia is not a signatory to the refugee convention.

  2. Captain Planet

    Thank you for the detailed summation.

    It is interesting to note that asylum seekers “become angry… ripping clothes, shouting …. and gesticulating in a threatening manner”.

    I think all of these are actually perfectly understandable reactions. People risking their lives, to flee for their lives, who are then thwarted practically within sight of the new home they are desperately seeking, should actually be commended for such self – restraint. Raised voices and waving your arms around? Well, what do we expect?

  3. shepherdmarilyn

    Geoff Smith told the CMI that before the pushaways the people were all quiet and compliant.

  4. paddy

    Well done with this piece Amber.
    Just totalling up the numbers of refugees on those few boats, produces a (tiny) figure.
    Whilst trying to comprehend their collective suffering, produces an unimaginably larger one.

  5. Marg Hutton

    In the preamble to their dissenting minority CMI Report, Senators Brandis, Ferguson and Mason in para. 9 make it clear they are the authors of the ‘most useful Appendix’. see:

    I don’t believe Admiral Smith is the author as you claim. The Appendix is attached to their minority report and was not a tabled document.

  6. Venise Alstergren

    PADDY: I’ll second your comment. I suppose this whole wretched disaster is what happens when politicians act to appease the opposition and playing to a perceived audience of potential voters.

    It would be excellent if each politician did a stint in one of these camps. Not for revenge, but to make them realise they’re dealing with human beings, not playing a game of chess.

  7. Whistleblower

    As soon as the so-called refugee boats leave Indonesian waters must we fall about to make it easy for them to enter into Australia? Should we reposition the Australian Navy just outside the Indonesian 12 mile limit to guarantee the safety of these customers of people smugglers?

    The easier we make it for the people smugglers, the more will use this channel. Whilst refugee advocates get their rocks off by siding with those wishing to force their way into our country more people smugglers will be encouraged to service this channel.

    In the Middle Ages, penitents lashed themselves with whips. Now it would appear that their modern day equivalents have morphed into refugee advocates similarly working themselves up into a lather of orgiastic frenzy but on more temporal issues.

    A further example of orgiastic frenzy is the analogy of fornicating boats in the first posting above, an analogy that I have tried many times to fathom but I must have a limited capacity for imagination. The closest analogy I can come to is one about tug- boats.

    It would appear that by running around advocating that we throw Australia’s doors open to any unemployed goatherd wishing to avail him or herself of lifetime tenure on the nipple of Australian social welfare that the flow will only increase as has been recently evidenced.

    Furthermore “playing to a perceived audience of potential voters” is what democracy is all about. It is these potential voters who are having to pay the massively increased social welfare bill as a consequence of Labor dithering with border control.

    Unfortunately for the refugee advocates the majority of Australians are not empathetic to boat people forcing their way into the country which is why Labor is now falling over itself to try to control the flow. Labor whilst vilifying Howard’s Pacific Solution is desperately trying to find their own equally powerful deterrent without admitting that Howard was right.

  8. GeeWizz

    [“Well done with this piece Amber.
    Just totalling up the numbers of refugees on those few boats, produces a (tiny) figure.
    Whilst trying to comprehend their collective suffering, produces an unimaginably larger one.”]

    Well thats the point… nip the problem in the bud before it becomes a big problem.

    We have seen the results of Labors soft touch solution…. drownings, deaths, explosions, riots and violence.

    We didn’t see this during the Pacific Solution because Howard stopped the boats. You stop the boats you stop the deaths. You stop the boats you stop the costs.

  9. Archer

    Whistleblower pretty much covered it.

  10. Captain Planet

    Watching the shallow opportunistic Right trying to take the Higher Moral Ground on this issue, by erecting the smokescreen about wanting to “stop the boats” in order to save lives, when in reality they want to exploit the perceived xenophobic ignorance of the electorate for political gain, makes me feel ill.

    To claim that “stopping the boats” is in the best interests of refugees / asylum seekers is so disingenous as to beggar belief. Don’t believe me? Find a group of asylum seekers somewhere in South East Asia who are about to pay to get on a boat to Australia. Ask if they are aware of the risks. They are. Then tell them that you are going to prevent them getting on that boat – for their own good.

    They will not thank you. The only people who will thank you are the small minded, selfish and insular minority who (for some ephemeral reason) believe that Australia is in danger of being “Swamped” by little brown people who will somehow take their jobs and their houses and their daughters.

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