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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Australia Forces Asylum Seeker Boat Back To Indonesia - Violates Indonesian Sovereignty

Abbot government attempts to cover up act of war

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
By Jonathan Swan
01/07/2014

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has refused to comment on reports an asylum seeker boat headed for Australia has been "driven'' back into Indonesian waters by the Australian navy. 
 
 
There are conflicting accounts of when the boat or boats were allegedly turned back, with the Jakarta Post referring to an incident on Monday, while other reports say the turn-back happened shortly before Christmas.

It is unclear whether the news outlets are referring to the same incident, and the Abbott government has refused to confirm or deny that the incident took place.

 
The Jakarta Post says a boat carrying 45 ''illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East'' was about to enter Australian waters on Monday but was ''immediately forced into Indonesian waters''. The ABC quotes Indonesia's government newswire Antara as reporting that a boat carrying 47 asylum seekers was intercepted by the Australian navy on December 13 and ''forced back'' to Indonesia.

Both news reports are attributed to the Indonesian police chief Hidayat. 
 
 
"If I don't look, perhaps this will all just go away..."
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Mr Morrison said the government would not comment on reports of ''on-water activities'' for ''operational security reasons''.

"Australia respects Indonesia's territorial sovereignty and will continue to do so, just as Indonesia has stated it respects Australia's territorial sovereignty,'' he said in a statement.

 
"It is not the policy or practice of the Australian government to violate Indonesian territorial sovereignty. Any suggestion to the contrary is false.

"People should not seek to come to Australia illegally by boat. It is dangerous and the Australian government's strong border protection policies under Operation Sovereign Borders mean that they will not succeed in what they set out to achieve." 
 
 
AU puts blame on Indonesia, treats asylum seekers like animals
Greens spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said Mr Morrison needed to clarify today what had happened and the circumstances in which the alleged incident occurred. 
 
 
 
 
''We should not be finding out from the Indonesian media before we find out from our own government,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

The asylum seekers ''could have drowned'', she said, adding that the towback practice was dangerous and legally questionable. 
 
 
Australian government violates Indonesian sovereignty
When the Abbott government took office Mr Morrison said he would give weekly briefings to update the public on his ''Operation Sovereign Borders'' asylum seeker policy and the number of boat arrivals.

He established a routine of holding a press conference every Friday, in which, accompanied by Sovereign Borders commander Angus Campbell, Mr Morrison would give a statement and then answer journalists' questions.

But the Friday before Christmas, Mr Morrison told journalists that would be his last question and answer session for the year and he would be issuing written statements instead.

Mr Morrison's promise to ''turn back boats where it is safe to do so'' was a key plank of the Abbott government's election promise to ''stop the boats''.

But the Indonesian government does not accept the turn-back policy, and Jakarta's irritation with the plan was inflamed further during the recent diplomatic feud over revelations that the Australian government monitored the phones of the Indonesian president and his wife.

Mr Morrison tried to return a boatload of asylum seekers to Indonesia in early November but failed to convince Indonesian officials to accept its return.

The Abbott government capitulated and ordered a Customs boat to take the asylum seekers to Christmas Island.
 
 

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