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Australian PM John Howard Alone On Siev X

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Refugee Action Committee, Canberra

Dear International Media,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Refugee Action Committee, Canberra


June 7,2003 Today Australia's Opposition Leader, Simon Crean left a simple message on a tiny internet memorial. For millions of Australians deeply concerned by the Howard Government's harsh treatment of asylum seekers the appearance of Simon Crean's message on JANNAH THE SIEV X MEMORIAL marked a moment in history.

The death of 353 people, mostly women and children, on the SIEV X was a shocking tragedy. The Labor Party joins with others in expressing our deepest sorrow and regret that this event occurred, particularly so close to Australia. It is a reminder that the evil trade in people smuggling is dangerous and unpredictable. Together we must work harder to put an end to people smuggling, and to hold those responsible for the SIEV X sinking accountable. This episode only strengthens our resolve to ensure that international human rights are respected and upheld.

~ Simon Crean, Leader of the Australian Labor Party.

May such a gross tragedy never happen again. And may those seeking a peaceful life, like the life we love here in Australia, find the security and happiness that was so wrongfully denied to the SIEVX victims.

~ Senator Bob Brown, Leader of the Greens.

I extend my deepest sympathies and regrets to all the families and friends of the 353 SIEVX victims. But I reserve my gravest concerns for the 40 survivors; these people survived the ordeal at sea, and now have to live with the horrific memories. It is a reminder that we should never forget the human impact and the suffering that can occur as a consequence of our inactions.

~ Senator Andrew Bartlett, Leader of the Democrats.

Prime Minister John Howard is now the only leader who has failed acknowledge the tragedy of SIEV X in which 146 children 142 women and 65 men - 353 valuable human beings died.

On the 19th of October 2001, a tiny nameless fishing boat carrying over 400 asylum seekers, bound for Australia, sank in international waters. Fearing death in their countries of birth they believed they would find freedom and peace in Australia. They believed in Australia. They wanted to be Australians. They were full of hope. They were so close. And then Australia closed her borders. That tiny nameless fishing boat had been their only hope.

That tiny boat would have been forgotten but for the advocacy of one man. A former Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Tony Kevin, deeply moved by the survivors' own ignored accounts, made the people of this and other countries take notice, demand the truth and remember those whose lives were lost. He gave the boat a name. He called it SIEV X. Tony Kevin was recently named "International Whistleblower of the Year"

"Howard has totally failed ordinary Australian families in health and education. But it is also significant and admirable that Simon Crean has here recognised the dignity and worth of Australia's forgotten people - the asylum-seekers brutalised in Howard's gulags, and those hundreds who perished on SIEV X and their grieving families", said Tony Kevin in response.

There were 45 eyewitnesses to the tragedy of SIEV X. The heartless application of Australia's harsh Immigration Law which denied their loved ones from travelling to comfort them were then used to deny them of opportunity giving evidence at the Senate Inquiry. Tony Kevin represented them, presenting their accounts which have never been published in the media.

The death toll of SIEV X was a twelfth of that of S11 and it was a tragedy which occurred on Australia's doorstep. The lack of compassion from the Prime Minister John Howard, on the news of the sinking in the lead up to the 2001 election, was only matched by that of his electoral opponent Kim Beazley. They were as one. Simon Crean with his message to Jannah shows he has the humanity and courage to value people above politics.



Convenor, Refugee Action Committee, Canberra

Tel 0415 752 012 Email





146 Children 142 Women 65 men 353 died in the SIEV-X tragedy

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