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January 26, 2010

Merak Refugee supporters call for the immediate release of a Canadian and two Australians being held by Indonesian police

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release January 26, 2010

Refugee groups are demanding the immediate release of two Australian citizens and a Canadian national who were detained this afternoon (around 3.00pm Tuesday, Indonesian time) by Indonesian police in the vicinity of the refugee boat at Merak.

The three were detained by police shortly after they arrived in Merak on Tuesday afternoon.

The two Australian citizens are Tamil community activist, Sara Nathan from Sydney and Pamela Curr from the Asylum seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. The Canadian citizen, Jessica Chandrashekar is from a humanitarian organisation called Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils (Canadian HART).

The three are being detained by the Merak Marine Police and have been questioned by police since being at the police headquarters.

It is understood that they are being held for further questioning by the Merak chief of police, Irwansyah. Both Canadian and Australian consular staff have been notified of the arrests.

The three have not been contactable for a number of hours.

The three activists, concerned for the welfare of the Tamil asylum seekers on the boat at Merak for over three months, have been in Indonesia since Wednesday making representations to various Indonesian government officials and attempting to arrange humanitarian supplies for the people on the boat.

“We are extremely concerned for their welfare,” said Ian Rintoul, a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “and are demanding their immediate release.

“Sara, Pamela and Jessica have done nothing wrong. It is against Indonesian law to hold people with out charge. They were in Merak because of their concern for the welfare of the people on the boat. The conditions on the boat are deteriorating day by day and there is an urgent need for humanitarian supplies.

“They represent the international concern among refugee supporters and the Tamil community for the plight of the Tamil refugees at Merak.

“It was a phone call form Kevin Rudd that resulted in the Merak boat being intercepted and taken to Merak in October last year. We expect Kevin Rudd to make another phone call to demand the release of the three people being detained by the Indonesian police.

“The people on the boat at Merak are Australia’s responsibility and so are the people being detained.

For more information contact, Ian Rintoul +61 417 275 713

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