Joint statement: Respect human rights -- free the refugees! Reject Australia's 'Indonesian solution'! Welcome the asylum seekers

Image removed.

Australian Customs commandos with Oceanic Viking in the background. Photo: ABC.

Joint statement by the Australian Socialist Alliance; Socialist Party (Australia); Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); Network of the Oppressed People (JERIT), Malaysia; CWI Malaysia; Confederation Congress of Indonesian Union Alliance (KASBI); Working Peoples Association (PRP), Indonesia; National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS), Indonesia; Indonesian National Front for Labor Struggle (FNPBI); Socialist Worker New Zealand; Socialist Alternative (Australia); Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philippines; Transform Asia; Labour Party Pakistan; Resistance (Australia); Militan-Indonesia; Asia-Pacific Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); Socialist Appeal New Zealand; Partido ng Manggagawa, Philippines; Solidarity (Australia)

November 5, 2009 -- -- All respect for elementary human rights and dignity have been thrown overboard as the governments of Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia refuse to accept the latest wave of Tamil asylum seekers fleeing war and oppression in Sri Lanka and instead treat them like criminals.

The Australian government is the only of these three governments to have signed the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees but it is refusing to carry out its obligations to asylum seekers under that convention.

For weeks, more than 250 Tamil-speaking people, including children, remain in dire conditions on a boat in Merak, Indonesia. Another 68 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including children, remain on the Australian customs ship Oceanic Viking off Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia. Both groups are refusing to leave their boats for fear that Indonesia will lock them up in detention centres with a reputation for brutality and/or send them back to an uncertain future in Sri Lanka. On November 1, it was reported that a boat of asylum seekers had sunk near the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, and 12 are missing feared drowned.

Meanwhile, 207 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers are being held at the Immigration Detention Centre at Kuala Lumpar International Airport, and 108 Sri Lankan refugees are being detained at Pekan Nanas Immigration Detention Centre in Johor, Malaysia. Malaysia is both a transit point and a country of permanent asylum for tens of thousands of refugees from countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims his Labor government's policy is "humane" but "tough". It is neither. The Labor government of Australia is bribing the Indonesian government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intercept the boats of asylum seekers on their way to Australia. This "Indonesian solution" outsources Australia's obligation to asylum seekers to Indonesia just as its predecessor did to Nauru and Papua New Guinea in the name of a "Pacific solution".

Many of those seeking asylum in Australia come from Sri Lanka where the Tamils have suffered from decades of brutal oppression at the hands of various Sinhala national-chauvinist governments. The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa unleashed an all-out terror campaign this year, killing some 20,000 Tamil people in the month of May. Since the end of the military offensive, more than 300,000 Tamil people have been imprisoned in concentration camps and denied the right to return to their homes. It is estimated that 31,000 children are among those incarcerated, without proper access to shelter, food and medicine.

The Australian government, like many governments in the West and across Asia, supported the Rajapaksa regime throughout its final onslaught preferring to maintain trade links, including selling arms, rather than stop the Tamil minority from being massacred.

We condemn the Australian, Indonesian and Malaysian governments for their lack of commitment to the humanitarian problems faced by the refugees and we demand:

  •  That the governments of our countries withdraw financial and diplomatic support from the Sri Lankan government until it closes the concentration camps, and allows the Tamils trapped in camps to go back to their homes without fear of persecution.

  •  That no refugee fleeing war and persecution should be forced to return to the country they fled.

  • That Australia, as a wealthy and developed country which has exploited its poorer neighbours, should immediately develop a program to settle tens of thousands of asylum seekers and take a leading role in helping reduce the misery of the world’s millions of refugees, most of whom are trying to survive in desperate conditions in refugee camps in some of the world's poorest countries.

  • That Australia allow the asylum seekers trapped in Indonesia to come to Australia to have their claims heard here and we condemn the Indonesian government for being a puppet for the Australian government in preventing refugees from going to Australia. This cooperation between these two governments is a threat not only to the Tamil refugees but to human rights in the region.

  • That Australia must immediately close the Christmas Island refugee prison, close it down and allow those asylum seekers to live in freedom in Australia while their claims are processed.

  • That the Indonesian, Malaysian and Australian governments respect the human rights of the refugees, give protection, humanitarian aid and accomodation to the refugees as long as they are in Indonesian territory and place no limitation for their rights to seek an asylum.       

  • That the Malaysian and Indonesian governments sign the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, release the asylum seekers they have in detention and allow them full access to UNHCR and human rights groups.

We appeal to all democratic and progressive people in Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, trade unions, human rights organisations and women’s rights organisations to understand the plight of the asylum seekers and to support our demands.

Signed by:

Socialist Alliance, Australia,

Socialist Party, Australia,

Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM),

Network of the Oppressed People (JERIT), Malaysia,

CWI Malaysia,

Confederation Congress of Indonesian Union Alliance (KASBI),

Working Peoples Association (PRP), Indonesia,

National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS),

Indonesian National Front for Labor Struggle (FNPBI)

Socialist Worker New Zealand,

Socialist Alternative, Australia

Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philippines,

Transform Asia

Labour Party Pakistan,

Resistance, Australia,


Asia-Pacific Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU),

Socialist Appeal New Zealand

Partido ng Manggagawa, Philippines

Solidarity, Australia

[If your organisation would like to add its name to this statement, please write to Socialist Alliance at]

Statement Bersama: Hormati Hak Asasi Manusia – Bebaskan Para Pengungsi! Tolak “Solusi Indonesia” Buatan Australia! Biarkan Para Pencari Suaka Datang!

Statement Bersama oleh Australian Socialist Alliance; Socialist Party (Australia); Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM); Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia; Committee for a Workers International (CWI) Malaysia; Konfederasi Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (KASBI); Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja (PRP); Partai Persatuan Pembebasan Nasional (PAPERNAS); Front Nasional Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia (FNPBI); Socialist Worker New Zealand; Socialist Alternative Australia; Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philipina; dan Transform Asia, Philipina; Labour Party Pakistan; Resistance (Australia); Militan-Indonesia; Asia-Pacific Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)

5 November 2009 – Penghormatan terhadap Hak Asasi Manusia telah dibuang ke laut oleh pemerintah Australia, Indonesia dan Malaysia ketika mereka menolak gelombang baru pencari suaka Tamil yang melarikan diri menghindari perang dan penindasan di Sri Lanka dan malahan mengancam mereka seperti kriminal.

Pemerintah Australia adalah satu-satunya pemerintahan, dari ketiga pemerintahan diatas, yang telah menandatangani Konvensi PBB tahun 1951 berkaitan dengan Status Pengungsi namun menolak menjalankan kewajibannya untuk pencari suaka dibawah konvensi tersebut.

Telah berbulan-bulan, lebih dari 250 orang berbahasa Tamil, termasuk anak-anak berada dalam kondisi menyedihkan di sebuah kapal di Merak, Indonesia. Sebanyak 68 orang pencari suaka Tamil lainnya, termasuk anak-anak berada dalam kapal bea cukai Australia Oceanic Viking di Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia. Kedua kelompok tersebut menolak meninggalkan perahu mereka karena takut pemerintah Indonesia akan memenjarakan mereka di pusat penahanan yang memiliki reputasi atas brutalitasnya dan atau mengirim mereka kembali ke masa depan yang tidak jelas di Sri Lanka. Pada tanggal 1November dilaporkan bahwa perahu pencari suaka tenggalam didekat pula Cocos, teritori Australia di Samudra Hindia, dan 12 orang hilang dikhawatirkan tenggelam.

Sementara itu 207 pencari suaka dari Sri Lanka ditahan di Pusat Penahanan Imigrasi di Bandara Internasional Kuala Lumpur, serta 108 pengungsi Sri Lanka ditahan di Pusat Penahanan Imigrasi Pekan Nanas di Johor, Malaysia. Malaysia adalah sebuah titik transit dan Negara dengan pencari suaka permanen dari puluhan ribu pengungsi dari Negara-negara seperti Burma dan Sri Lanka.

Perdana Menteri Australia Kevin Rudd menyatakan bahwa kebijakan pemerintahan Buruhnya adalah “manusiawi” namun “tegas”. Nyatanya bukanlah kedua hal itu. Pemerintahan Buruh Australia menyuap Pemerintahan Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono untuk mencegah perahu para pencari suaka ke Australia. “Solusi Indonesia” ini mengoutsourching kan kewajiban Australia kepada para pencari suaka ke Indonesia seperti yang dilakukan oleh para pendahulunya kepada Nauru dan Papua New Guinea atas nama “Solusi Pasifik”.

Banyak dari mereka yang mencari suaka di Australia dating dari Sri Lanka dimana komunitas Tamil menderita berpuluh-puluh tahun karena penindasan brutal ditangan berbagai pemerintahan chauvinis-nasional Sinhala. Pemerintahan Mahinda Rajapaksa melancarkan kampanye terror all-out pada tahun ini, yang mengakibatkan korban jiwa 20.000 Tamil pada bulan Mei. Sejak akhir serangan militer, lebih dari 300.000 penduduk Tamil telah dipenjara dalam kamp konsentrasi dan ditolak haknya untuk kembali ke rumah mereka. Diperkirakan sekitar 31.000 anak-anak termasuk diantara mereka yang dipenjarakan, tanpa akses layak kepada tempat tinggal, makanan dan obat-obatan.

Pemerintah Australia, seperti banyak pemerintahan di Barat dan di Asia, mendukung sepenuhnya rejim Rajapaksa sepanjang serangan besar-besarannya. Mereka lebih menyukai menjaga hubungan perdagangan, termasuk perdagangan senjata, ketimbang menghentikan pembantaian terhadap minoritas Tamil. 

Kami mengutuk Pemerintahan Australia, Indonesia dan Malaysia karena tidak adanya komitmen mereka kepada persoalan humanitarian yang dihadapi oleh para pengungsi dan kami menuntut:

a.       Agar pemerintahan Negara kami menarik dukungan keuangan dan diplomatik dari pemerintah Sri Lanka hingga pemerintah Sri Lanka menutup kamp konsentrasinya dan mengijinkan penduduk Tamil yang terjebak didalam kamp-kamp untuk kembali ke rumah mereka tanpa rasa ketakutan akan represi.

b.      Agar tidak satupun pengungsi yang lari karena perang dan pengejaran dipaksa kembali ke Negara yang mereka tinggalkan.

c.       Bahwa Australia, sebagai Negara yang kaya dan berkembang yang telah mengeksploitasi Negara tetangganya yang lebih miskin segera mengembangkan program untuk puluhan ribu pencari suaka dan memainkan peran memimpin dalam membantu mengurangi penderitaan jutaan pengungsi di dunia, yang kebanyakan darinya berusaha bertahan dalam kondisi menyedihkan dalam kamp-kamp pengungsi di beberapa Negara-negara yang termasuk Negara termiskin didunia.

d.      Agar Australia mengijinkan pencari suaka yang terjebak di Indonesia datang ke Australia untuk agar klaim mereka didengar di Australia. Dan kami mengutuk pemerintahan Indonesia yang menjadi boneka dari Pemerintahan Australia dalam mencegah para pengungsi pergi ke Australia. Kerjasama dari kedua pemerintah ini adalah ancaman tidak hanya bagi para pengungsi Tamil namun untuk hak asasi manusia di region ini.

e.      Bahwa Australia harus segera menutup penjara pengungsi di Pulau Christmas dan mengijinkan para pencari suaka untuk hidup dengan bebas di Australia sementara klaim mereka diproses.

f.        Agar pemerintah Indonesia, Malaysia dan Australia menghormati hak asasi manusia dari para pengungsi, memberikan perlindungan, bantuan kemanusiaan dan akomodasi kepada para pengungsi selama mereka berada di teritori Indonesia dan tidak memberikan batasan bagi hak mereka untuk mencari suaka.

g.       Agar pemerintah Malaysia dan Indonesia meratifikasi Konvensi PBB mengenai Status Pengungsi, membebaskan para pencari suaka di tahanan mereka dan memberikan akses penuh pada UNHCR dan kelompok-kelompok HAM.

Kami menyerukan kepada seluruh kelompok demokratik dan progresif di Indonesia, Malaysia dan Australia, serikat buruh, organisasi HAM dan organisasi hak perempuan untuk memahami seruan para pencari suaka dan untuk mendukung tuntutan kami.

Ditanda tangani oleh:

Socialist Alliance, Australia,

Socialist Party (Australia),

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM),

Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia,

Committee for a Workers International (CWI) Malaysia,

Konfederasi Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (KASBI),

Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja (PRP),

Partai Persatuan Pembebasan Nasional (PAPERNAS),

Front Nasional Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia (FNPBI)

Socialist Worker New Zealand,

Socialist Alternative, Australia,

Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philippine,

Transform Asia, Philippine

Labour Party Pakistan,

Resistance, Australia,


Asia-Pacific Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU),

[Jika organisasi anda ingin menambahkan namanya dalam pernyataan sikap bersama ini, mohon menulis ke]


Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 10:47


November 4, 2009 -- For over 60 years Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka have faced and continue to face the huge repression of their rights from the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist governments. Not one international government, either from the west or from Asia, intervened on behalf of the oppressed minority to counter the attacks. The lives of thousands of ordinary Tamil-speaking people have been lost as, under the present Rajapakse government, Sinhala chauvinism has peaked.

Children have lost parents. People have lost entire families. A generation of young people has lost its future as education provision has been decimated. The suffering of Tamil-speaking people is unspeakable.

The Sri Lankan government declared that the war is over. But people around the world know and are shocked that over 250,000 people are suffering in so-called refugee camps, which are in fact torture camps. In all parts of Sri Lanka Tamil-speaking people have been arrested and killed.

We have lost our loved ones and our lives to the war. We fled Sri Lanka just to save our lives and to safeguard our future and hoped to seek refuge in Australia, a country we believed would recognise our plight.

On 11 October 2009 our boat was intercepted in international waters and brought to Merak harbour by the Indonesian Navy. From a six month old baby to a 66 year old, including a pregnant woman, we are all still in the boat. For the last two weeks we have been hoping at least one country in the world would take us.

We understand that among the people of Indonesia there are many different religions. There are over 400 languages including minority languages which are also recognised as national languages. From this we draw hope that our democratic rights would be respected.

We are dismayed to discover that efforts are being made to detain us in camps or hotels, as we have committed no crime and only seek refuge. We have been made refugees in our own country and have lost everything we had except our lives. What we seek is a country that will not detain us and will provide education and other rights for our young ones.

We feel we have no choice but to remain on the boat until the UN or any government takes a step to offer us what we so desperately need.

We are sure that there must be a country that will recognise our desperation and can grant us the very basic rights we seek.

But until then we are determined to stay in the boat.

  • We appeal to the Indonesian and Australian masses, trade unions, human rights organisations and women’s rights organisations to understand our plight and to support our demands.

  • We are appealing to all who stand against repression and for human rights to do whatever they can to help us. We especially urge the United Nations to act on our behalf.

  • We appeal to our brothers and sisters in Tamil Nadu, in Malaysia and in the Tamil-speaking diaspora around the world who have also suffered the brutality of Sri Lankan governments, to give voice to our desperate cry.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 12:03


The MUA and CFMEU have sent donations to the Tamil refugees, see here:

* * *
Joint MUA/CFMEU media release 5 Nov 2009:

As the 78 Sr Lankan asylum seekers move into their 20th day at sea, Australian
seafarers, miners and wharfies plan to hand $10,000 to the refugees to help them
in their crisis.

"It's Australian seafarers who have been with these people through their ordeal
and they have been moved to make a meaningful humanitarian gesture. The Maritime
Union of Australia (MUA) with the CFMEU (Mining and Energy Division) have agreed
to donate the money", said Paddy Crumlin, national secretary of the Maritime
Union of Australia.

"Shortly there will be a "swing" in the crew of the Oceanic Viking - 13 MUA
crew will be relieved and replaced with fresh crew. The MUA delegate will
distribute the donations among the refugees.

"At least it will mean that the refugees have a bit of light at the end of a
very long tunnel", said Mr Crumlin.

"This is about two Aussie unions stumping up to help people fleeing dreadful
persecution," said CFMEU President Tony Maher.

"We've all seen the pictures of these desperate families. They are the victims
in all this and they need our support", Mr Maher said.

"As the future of these people has hung in the balance, our blokes and others on
the Oceanic Viking have just got on with the job of providing as clean and safe
an environment for these unfortunate human beings. In doing that job they set
aside political arguments," said Mr Crumlin

"Our members pick up these flotsam and jetsam from a badly stuffed up world from
their ships rigs and floating platforms, sometimes at great risk to their own

"Certainly our immigration processes are the preferred mechanism, but many that
really have no option but to take a last desperate throw of the dice where they
pitch the gamble to survive with their lives, usually because they know with gut
wrenching certainty they are likely to lose them anyway if they hang around the
home town.

"What this episode has reinforced is the need for the Government to ensure that
the revitalisation of Australian shipping currently before the Government goes
ahead. The role our merchant navy and respected seafarers play in border
protection and security cannot be overestimated", says Mr Crumlin

The role of the merchant navy throughout the south east Asia and the Pacific
will be an issue of interest at the International Transport Workers Oceanic
seminar from Monday November 9-11.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 16:16


The National Council of the Maritime Union of Australia moved the following resolution in Sydney on November 5, 2009;

"That the responsibility for the Sri Lankan refugees is in part Australia's own doing. We are the second largest investor in Sri Lanka, yet we have brought no pressure to bear on the government of Sri Lanka to stop the persecution of Tamil people in that country. The Sri Lankan government still hold over 300,000 Tamil's in a concentration camp and do not allow Red Cross or international observers to monitor the situation. People will always try to escape from persecution. While we remain silent on the injustices in Sri Lanka we will continue to have to deal with people who seek refuge from it. We call on the Australian Government to withhold investment in Sri Lanka, until humanitarian aid is allowed to those areas still under military control and the entrenched persecution of the Tamil population ceases."

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 07:57




November 16, 2009

“The Australian government did not pull the trigger, but it provided the
bullets and loaded the guns that were turned on Afghan asylum seekers on
the weekend,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action

“How ironic that in the same month there were celebrations of the fall of
the Berlin Wall, Indonesian border guards have shot asylum seekers trying
to get to Australia. But the stark reality is that the opportunity, the
bullets, the guns, the patrol, boat and the training are provided by
Australia. Asylum seekers are now fleeing persecution in Indonesia,
sponsored by the Australian government.

“Kevin Rudd’s policy has made vulnerable people even more vulnerable. The
demand for bribes is a common experience of asylum seekers in Indonesia.

“But the shooting of two Afghan asylum seekers has blown a gaping hole in
Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia Solution and his claim for a humane asylum policy.
No-one is going to accept that people fleeing the bullets of the Taliban
should be shot in Indonesia by Australian-funded guards.

“Until there is adequate accommodation, reliable processing and a guarantee
of re-settlement in Australia, there is no possibility of an Indonesian
solution,” said Ian Rintoul.

Meanwhile, Indonesia authorities are steeping up pressure on the 250 asylum
seekers in Merak. In what may the first steps to forcibly removing the
asylum seekers, Indonesian authorities have restricted access to the port.

On the weekend, the Indonesia navy evacuated a woman who had fainted after
the International Organsation for Migration (IOM) refused to call an
ambulance and a doctor refused to board the boat to attend to the woman.

The IOM which has been providing assistance to the asylum seekers has now
abandoned the group at Merak. There is now no direct medical support for
the group.

“The IOM has been pressuring us to leave the boat since it arrived deserted
us, and now they have left completely. We are urgently calling for the Red
Cross to take responsibility for us,” said “Alex” the representative of the
Merak asylum seekers.

On Saturday, a man claiming to be an Indonesian policeman called for
“Alex”, to leave the boat, then threatened to shoot him

“Australia should bring the asylum seekers at Merak and the Oceanic Viking
to Australia. Rudd is prolonging the agony to save face, but he has already
guaranteed that those with UNHCR refugee cards will come to Australia. One
hundred and nine people on the boat at Merak also have UNHCR refugee cards.

“Reports that Indonesia may be considering deporting some of the Merak
asylum seekers makes it more urgent that Kevin Rudd intervenes to ensure
the safety of these people,” Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 047 275

* * *

MEDIA RELEASE: Kevin Rudd is to blame for Indonesians opening fire on asylum seekers

Project SafeCom Inc.

P.O. Box 364


Western Australia 6312


Office (08) 9881-5651

Mobile 0417 090 130

Kevin Rudd is to blame for Indonesians opening fire on asylum seekers

Media Release

Sunday November 15, 2009 9:00am WST

For immediate Release

No Embargoes

"The ghastly fact that Indonesian authorities have opened fire on Afghan asylum seekers who were on their way to seek protection in Australia - their unabrogated right under international law - points squarely at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his equally ghastly attempt to 'farm out' to Indonesia Australia's obligations to let asylum seekers arrive in the safety and protection of Australian maritime zones - the ONLY place for them to find legal protection as asylum seekers," WA human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"The breaking news (see below) that Indonesia has opened fire on asylum seekers should wake up Kevin Rudd. His hero, WWII's German Priest (and people smuggler) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, turns in his grave today, and he is the symbol of Kevin Rudd's vile hypocrisy on this Sunday morning," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"The farming out of Australia's obligations under the UN Refugee Convention to Indonesia is a disgrace. Today we're seeing the result of this. Indonesia is incapable of seeing them as asylum seekers, and they will treat them as invaders, they will deal with them as illegals, and they will treat them as criminals and as a nasty group causing trouble to their equilibrium of law and order. Indonesia is incapable of this because it has no obligations under, and no knowledge of, the UN Convention."

"Kevin Rudd is responsible for this shooting incident. Kevin Rudd is responsible for those who have been stuck in Indonesia for up to eight years, and he is responsible for the misery of those who he fiercely, nastily, covertly and miserably, prevents from coming to Australia -the only UN Convention country in the nearest 5,000 miles, the only home for asylum seekers in the region," Mr Smit said.

For more information: Jack H Smit, Project SafeCom Inc.

Office (08) 9881-5651 | mobile 0417 090 130


Shooting asylum seekers 'regrettable'



November 15, 2009 09:25am

THE Federal Government has described as "regrettable" the shooting of two suspected asylum seekers whose boat was intercepted by the Indonesian coast guard.

The boat, carrying 61 Afghans, was heading for Australia on Thursday when it was intercepted off the eastern coast of Indonesia.

One of the asylum seekers was shot in the foot and another in the hand after ignoring warning shots from police after they tried to escape, Indonesian police said.

The injured men were receiving treatment, while the others were being questioned by police.

The Australian Government had yet to receive a detailed report of the incident, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said.

"We don't know what's happened, we don't know what kind of circumstances that's been involved," he told Channel 10 today.

"Obviously it's regrettable if anybody's been injured in any kind of situation like this."

The Government did not want to cast any aspersions about anybody's involvement, Mr Tanner said.,27574,26352563-29277,00.html