A possie in Aussie

February 22, 2010

Games may be fun for the Australian Navy – but they kill asylum seekers

Australian Customs and Navy procedures for boarding illegal vessels will be reviewed in an ‘effort to make interceptions safer’, as a result of the Siev 36 explosion, in which five asylum seekers died. Boarding of illegal vessels for review

The review will examine changes in the types of boats and technologies used by people smugglers and illegal fishermen, and possible improvements to the equipment used by customs and defence.

But no mention of the most dangerous and nasty practice of all – the game of ‘cat and mouse’. The coronial inquiry into the Siev 36 affair heard that boarding parties ‘tease’ passengers and crew by talking about turning the boat around and back to Indonesia, even when they are fully aware that the boat is in Australian waters, and so they will not be able to do so. It is likely that the Siev 36 was set on fire by desperate asylum seekers who fell for the ‘trick’.

The Inquiry heard that the Chief Petty Officer of HMAS Albany handed one of the crew a notice in English and Bahasa, the last line of which read: “You should now consider immediately returning to Indonesia with your passengers and not enter Australian territory.”

The Commander of the Albany was ‘surprised’ when he heard of the notice. The SIEV 36 had crossed into Australian territorial waters long before. “This guy could see Ashmore Reef. He could see land,” the Commander said. “It was my expectation that a warning notice would not be issued.”

A senior policeman investigating the explosion asked: “Why is this sort of cat and mouse game played and not telling them where they are going?” Cat and mouse; the deadly game on our borders

Pamela Curr says that this sort of ‘game’ has been happening for years:

“I have asked four people from four different boats — rescued by Navy and Customs since the SIEV 36 disaster —   if they were informed about what was happening to them. I asked specifically if they were told that they were being taken to Christmas Island. In each case they said no. The most recent person was rescued in November 2009”. Navy leaving asylum seekers in the dark about their final destination


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