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December 3, 2009

Fears for Tamil asylum seekers – one disappears in Sri Lanka and Indonesian navy threatens removal at Merak

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release December 3
Refugee advocates are calling on the Australian government and the International Orgnaisation of Migration to urgently intervene to guarantee the safety of the Tamil asylum seekers on the boat at Merak.

Large number of Indonesian navy personnel have surrounded the refugee boat at Merak. It seems that the navy is preparing to forcibly board the refugee boat.

“The Indonesian navy is either preparing to remove people from the boat or is intimidating very vulnerable people. The Tamils are Australia’s responsibility. They are only in Indonesia because of Kevin Rudd’s phone call,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Kevin Rudd must guarantee their safety. They must be treated the same as the Tamils on the Oceanic Viking and promised re-settlement in Australia.”

In the early hours of this morning (Thursday), a number of Indonesian inflatable craft carrying armed and camouflaged navy personnel threateningly approached the boat at Merak.

One of the dinghies attempted to up the Merak boat and one person carrying a heavy bag attempted to board. People on board the boat untied the rope and prevented the person form boarding.

Once photographs and video camera began recording the boarding attempt, the navy boats withdrew to the mother ship anchored about 500 metres away from the Merak boat.

Latest report from Merak says that there are 7 dinghies and another large boat are again surrounding the Merak boat.

“We are extremely worried. The large boats is big enough to hold a large number of people if they physically remove us,” the Refugee Action Coalition was told from the boat at midday. “This is the second time the navy boats have threatened us.”

[[Tamil refugee disappears at Colombo airport

Meanwhile grave fears are held for one of the eight Tamils who left the Merak boat about three weeks ago. After being held in detention in Jakarta, he has disappeared after returning to Sri Lanka. Gunasekaram Sujendran aged 25, returned to Sri Lanka after getting word that his mother was seriously ill.

He was meant to arrive at Colombo on 26 November but he didn’t come out of the airport. His family is convinced that he has been arrested and are extremely concerned for his welfare. Enquiries by his family have drawn a blank, with authorities claiming they have no knowledge of Gunasekaram

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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