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May 20, 2012

MERAK TAMIL REFUGEES PROTEST IN MEDAN: AFTER THREE YEARS

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

TAMIL REFUGEES NEED URGENT ASSISTANCE FOR RE-SETTLEMENT

Protest: Monday 21 May, 9.00.

Tamil refugees from the Merak boat still waiting for re-settlement after three years will hold a protest in front of the UNHCR and IOM offices at Jl.Mojopahit #65/43, Medan-20153, Indonesia, at 9.00a,. Monday 21 May.

For media comment: Indonesia +6289613145176; Australia +61 417 275 713

We are the group of over 250 Tamils who were intercepted by the Indonesian navy on our way to Australia on 9 October 2009, and taken to Merak. We were over seven months at the port of Merak, Indonesia before disembarking.

When we disembarked, we were promised by both the Indonesian government and the UNHCR, that we would be processed and resettled within twelve months.

At that time, almost three years ago, UNHCR Jakarta representative, told us at a meeting (that also involved the representative of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry) that there were 4,400 asylum seekers in Indonesia but only 450 recognised refugees and that we would be the first to be resettled after them. But that has not happened.

The Australian government promised that they would assist the UNHCR to resettle us as soon as the UNHCR referred us to them. The Indonesian government also said that they wanted a priority resettlement solution for us.

But we were detained for a year in Tanjung Pinang some of us more than one year before we were granted UNHCR refugee status and subsequently released.

From time to time, over the past year, we have been told that our resettlement arrangements were starting, but then nothing happens. Now another year later, we are still waiting for resettlement. We have waited patiently for over three years now.

We have asked the UNHCR many times when will be resettled but we get no answers. We are still told to wait. But we cannot wait forever.

It is clear now that most of the asylum seekers who arrived after us are being given priority and are been given resettlement assistance before us. We do not know why, but it seems clear that we are being discriminated against. Recently some resettlement interviews were started for the families but then they have stopped again.

We appreciate the assistance we have been given by the Indonesian government and the UNHCR, but we now need urgent assistance for resettlement so that we can find safety and security and be able to restart our lives. We cannot continue to endure our temporary existence in Indonesia. We have been recognized as refugees for the personal threat that we faced in our country not for the general situation of the country. We have still face danger in our country

We urgently need a resettlement solution. We cannot stay in Indonesia indefinitely. Eventhough there are opportunities to give us resettlement, UNHCR denies to gives. Every now and then one or two Tamil Refugees are given resettlement for formality. UNHCR doesn’t give priority to Tamil refugees in Indonesia.

According to UNHCR statistics only 17 refugees referred to Australia from UNHCR Indonesia have been resettled in the first three months of 2012.

Signed: Merak Tamil Refugees

(i) http://www.theage.com.au/national/rudd-call-stops-refugee-boat-20091012-gu1h.html).

(ii) http://news.brisbanetimes.com.au/breaking-news-national/indonesia-seeking-asylum-seeker-deal-20091230-lj3a.html).

(iii) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/jakarta-puts-kevin-rudd-on-notice-over-asylum-seekers/story-e6frg6nf-1225814257261).

(iv) http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/30/2782556.htm

(v) http://penseur21.com/2010/12/11/sri-lanka-deported-asylum-seekers-face-torture-jail/

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