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November 18, 2009

Appeal to the Australian government from Merak asylum seekers

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release November 18
The asylum seekers on the boat at Merak have issued an appeal to the Australian government. The statement dictated to the Refugee Action Coalition from the ship is printed below.

“Following the negotiations with the 78 people on the Oceanic Viking, the government must now act to assist the asylum seekers at Merak,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“It was Kevin Rudd’s phone call that stopped them. It is time for Kevin Rudd to face up to his responsibilities. They should be brought to Australia and their refugee claims processed here. It is quite obvious that Indonesia cannot guarantee their safety. It is also obvious that with adequate resources and Australian guarantees, asylum seekers in Indonesia can be processed between four and six weeks.

“If Kevin Rudd really wants to put an end the dark days of children behind razor wire, It’s time to end the Indonesian Solution,” said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Statement from Merak asylum seekers

To the Australian government and people: The asylum seekers at Merak need urgent humanitarian assistance

Thirty eight days ago, the Australian prime minister made a phone call to the Indonesian president SBY. No-one knew at the time that the phone call would make history and change the lives of people fleeing persecution and torture.

Now many people of those people are suffering. Twenty seven women hold 31 nutritionally deprived children who are losing weight. The men on the boat are desperately trying to keep the heavy rain out of the ship. But it is a losing battle.

Many people in Australia will recognize our situation because they know other refugees or have faced similar circumstances, having the same fears and fleeing the same dangers.

Seventy-eight people on the Oceanic Viking have been given a chance of security and hope for the future.

It is hard to keep our hopes alive, but we still hold on to the belief that there will be justice for us.

One hundred and nine people on the boat have UNHCR refugee status. Another 24 have UNHCR letters stating they are in the final stages of refugee determination. Our situation grows more serious each day.

The Indonesian government has restricted access by the media and other support agencies to the port area. The International Organisation of Migration has now abandoned us. We are without proper medical care. Many people on the boat are getting sick. Pneumonia, fever and diarrhoea are just some of the sickness we are dealing with. We have had to use our own money to pay for ambulances to transport sick and unconscious people to hospital.

There are reports that those of us without UNHCR ID’s may be deported to Sri Lanka by the Indonesian government. The human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government against Tamils continues. Deportation to Sri Lanka would put us in certain danger and would be a fundamental breach of the Refugee Convention.

The Australian government can ensure our safety. We are not on an Australian boat, but we are the same as the 78 on the Oceanic Viking. We are refugees and should be treated equally.

Signed by 250 asylum seekers at Merak, 17/11/09

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