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December 28, 2009

Refugee groups to hold protest at Australian embassy, Jakarta, 28 dec

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media release December 28

A coalition of Indonesian democratic rights organisations, including Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, Legal Aid Foundation, Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance will join the Refugee Action Coalition from Australia to hold a protest at the Australian embassy, Jakarta at 11.00am, 28 December to oppose the Australian government’s Indonesian solution.

The protest follows widespread concern at the death on 23 December of George Jacob a 29 year old asylum seeker from the refugee boat stranded at Merak for over two and half months.

The protest will call for urgent humanitarian assistance for the Tamil asylum seekers at Merak; an end to the Australian government’s so-called Indonesian solution and for an end to the detention of refugees in Indonesia and Australia.

“The tragic death of Jacob has put the fate of asylum seekers caught by the Indonesian solution into stark relief. Without immediate humanitarian assistance there could easily be another tragedy among the 250 asylum seekers at Merak. Detention centres funded by the Australian government are inflicting misery on hundreds of asylum seekers across the Indonesian archipelago,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“By using Indonesia to intercept and detain asylum seekers, the Indonesian solution amounts to a conspiracy by Indonesia and Australia to subvert the Refugee Convention and should be internationally condemned. Kevin Rudd’s phone call to the Indonesian President to intercept the Merak boat was a black day for regional humanitarian refugee policy,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The protest in Jakarta marks a new phase of international cooperation among refugee groups to build regional opposition to the Indonesian solution.”

[[Meeting with Indonesian Human Rights Commission
Indonesian and Australian refugee activists and representatives of the Australian Tamil community met commissioners from the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, on 26 December, to discuss their concerns at the situation at Merak, the possibility of Tamils being returned to Sri Lanka, the Indonesian solution and the conditions of immigration detention in Indonesia.

The meeting was also attended by the director of the Indonesian Jesuit Refugee Service who was recently denied permission to hold either a service for George Jacob or to celebrate Christmas with Tamil Christians at Merak.

It is expected that a number of formal complaints will be lodged with the Indonesian Human Rights Commission over the death of George Jacob and the failure of care by IOM which has responsibility for the welfare of asylum seekers in Indonesia and over the role of human rights violations by the Indonesian government’s role in the Indonesian solution.

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