Towing the Boats back, surely not?

Tow back boats by Australian Navy

Tow back boats by Australian Navy

(Reuters) – On New Year’s day, 45 asylum seekers in a ramshackle wooden boat slid ashore on a small island off the Australian city of Darwin. Four others had been swept overboard that morning in rough seas and were believed dead.

The survivors, from Africa and the Middle East, stumbled onto the beach, thankful to find refuge on Australian soil. Or so they thought.

Within an hour, an Australian warship and other vessels arrived. Military personnel forced the asylum seekers back onto their wooden boat and towed it out to sea. Their destination: Indonesia.

Determining precisely what happened is difficult. But interviews with five of the passengers reconstructs a journey they say was marked by physical and verbal abuse.

Their accounts highlight just how far the newly elected conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott is going to meet his election promise to “stop the boats” – a policy which involves towing vessels back to Indonesia, the main departure point for people-smuggling boats.

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14 Responses to “Towing the Boats back, surely not?”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    Thank you, Gerard, for the link to that article from Indonesia. I want to reblog it on auntyuta.
    The piano music and the pictures from Venice I liked very much! 🙂


  2. auntyuta Says:

    Reblogged this on auntyuta.


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you Auntyuta. Go ahead, a fine compliment!


  4. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I think this is where the expression ‘between a rock and a hard place’ stems from. It makes my blood boil!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it is not as if Australia is overcrowded like the 700.000 Syrians that have fled into Turkey.
      I always thought a law of the high seas included a duty saving people that are at risk of drowning, not towing and pushing them back again.


  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Try and listen to this man about refugees.


  6. berlioz1935 Says:

    It is not easy to be an Australian citizen under the Abbott government.


  7. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Grim story. Lovely music.


  8. aussieian2011 Says:

    I support the Australian government and our Prime minister and navy on the stance of returning boat people from Indonesia, back to Indonesia, most countries require you to have a visa prior to entering their country, in the case of Indonesia you apply for a visa after arrival, if you breach that visa, ie by illegal means, then they should be returned to their last country that issued the visa, that being, in this case Indonesia.
    Indonesian immigration and visa requirements are a farce.
    Just my opinion.


  9. gerard oosterman Says:

    When people are on the high seas on flimsy boats and in danger of drowning, it used to be the duty of other sailors to save them. Not according to this government. Abbott stops boats and refuses to help those in most needs. Who cares about visas? They are alive and get hungry, fall sick and have the same needs as us.
    The difference between you aussieian 2011 and desperate boat people is the luck of your birth, that is all that separates you from them.
    Aren’t you lucky?


  10. rangewriter Says:

    That there must even be debate about this issue is a sad commentary on humanity. It is not the first time this has happened, and Australia is not the only guilty country. It is heartbreaking. What person with a beating heart and clear mind could imagine the desperation that launches humans into such a situation?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you rangewriter.
      I still believe the world will have to accept a better deal for those in danger. Sharing the wealth and space with less obsessive nationalism. If the wealthier countries don’t, the consequences will be far worse.


      • berlioz1935 Says:

        The International Human Rights convention was introduced by the UN after the war, and signed by the Australian government, because of the dreadful treatment the Jews of Europe experienced all over the world. They were rejected everywhere as not being genuine refugees. The world did not want a repeat performance where government can decide who is a refugee. People have a right to asked for refuge, they are not illegals, as we want declare them.


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