Five refugees dead?

Refugees coming ashore

The minister’s statement [MARITIME SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATION COMPLETE] is ambiguous, incomplete, and implausible and quotes no direct sources (i.e. only vague departmental names like Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

The Minister states:

Surveillance aircraft were deployed to continue searching the rescue scene following reports from rescued passengers that five passengers were missing, having left the vessel several days ago before help arrived.

Why does the minister for Home Affairs report that they found objects ‘including lifejackets and tyre tubes’ that may have been ‘associated with persons missing’?

Why would passengers leave a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean? Why would they desert their lifejackets?

The Media Contact for this statement was unable to provide any explanation of this statement.

She said that the information came from the Russian crew but would give no details of whom spoke to who. She said that she had spoken to a ‘whole range of people’ but would not say specifically who she spoke to.

She suggested I call AMSA. She gave me a generic number for AMSA (02 6279 5000). AMSA stands for Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

She said that she wanted to provide as much information as possible.

She asked me who I was and why I was asking these questions. I had already identified myself. I told her that I am the editor of this website.

She told me to ring Australian Customs and Border Protection.

She had only been in the job for 2 weeks. She was totally unprepared for any critical questioning of the Ministers implausible and incomplete press release.

While I politely asked who were the people that gave her the information she rang off.

Cocos Keeling Islands are way out there in the Indian Ocean. The asylum seekers were reported to have been 125 kms from Cocos in one report and 270 kms in another i.e. far away.

Remember Siev X and all those refugees that lost their lives.

Do we put the safety of people who have risked their lives into the hands of Ministers who employ inexperienced, unhelpful and unwilling media officers.

Does anyone at the Ministry care about the five people that drowned?

Are we to hear any facts? Whom do we trust to hunt down the facts? There is an army of bureaucrats that are paid to do this. So why does the Minister withold the facts?

Ian Curr
May 2010

Reference
Dark Victory

“When the Australian Coastwatch Surveillance plane, the ‘de Havilland 8’, first spotted a Suspect Illegal Entry Vessel (SIEV) to the north of Christmas Island on 23 August 2001, Australia’s detention centres were full to capacity with 3,600 asylum seekers. In the previous fortnight Christmas Island had seen the arrival of boats carrying over 600 asylum seekers, more than ever before.” — Dark Victory, a review

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