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Cablegate: Case Involving Sri Lankan Migrants Successfully

VZCZCXRO1144
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1907 3220741
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180741Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3865
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1607
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1631
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0090
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2729
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 001907

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/PD, EAP/RSP, DRL
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF ID AS CE AF
SUBJECT: CASE INVOLVING SRI LANKAN MIGRANTS SUCCESSFULLY
RESOLVED

REF: JAKARTA 01895 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: A month-long asylum-related stand-off
came to end on November 16 when 56 Sri Lankan migrants agreed
to leave a ship moored near an island off of Sumatra. The
migrants will now be processed by UNHCR, and will be on their
way to Australia if the GOA and UNHCR judge them to be
genuine refugees. In the meantime, 250 Sri Lankans remain on
a cargo ship in western Java. The case of the 250 migrants
has been turned over to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, which is working to resolve the situation. The GOI
continues to work flexibly and within international norms to
handle the up-tick in irregular migrants intercepted as they
head toward Australia. END SUMMARY.

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STAND-OFF COMES TO AN END

3. (U) There is good news regarding a migrant-related case
in Indonesia. A month long stand-off involving 56 Sri Lankan
asylum seekers and the GOI came to an end on November 16 when
the migrants agreed to disembark from a vessel. They will
join 22 compatriots who left the ship--which is moored off of
Bintan Island near Sumatra--on November 13. The UNHCR, in
coordination with the Indonesian and Australian governments,
will expeditiously process claims for asylum and, if they so
merit, the GOA will accept the migrants as refugees.

SRI LANKANS REMAIN IN WESTERN JAVA

4. (SBU) Another tranche of Sri Lankan migrants remains in
limbo. On November 16, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(Deplu) replaced immigration authorities as the agency in
charge of handling the case of the 250 Sri Lankans who have
been moored off of the coast of West Java for more than a
month. The asylum seekers are demanding to be taken to
Australia and have refused to leave their boat. However, in
line with well-established procedures, the group must first
turn themselves over to Indonesian immigration officials, who
will then identify them. Pending the result of the
investigation immigration will turn their cases over to the
UNHCR. The UNHCR will then determine whether they qualify
for refugee status. The seven irregular migrants who left
the boat nearly a month ago are currently being held in a
detention center waiting for the UNHCR to rule on their
applications for asylum.

5. (SBU) Despite various press reports, International
Organization for Migration (IOM) representatives say that
they continue to work on the case of the 250 migrants. IOM
says it has representatives stationed near the boat. IOM has
noted that it has concerns that some of the migrants on the
boat are irascible and difficult to deal with. Nonetheless,
the organization is committed to working with the GOI, GOA,
and UNHCR on their cases.

GOI WORKS FLEXIBLY AND WITHIN INTERNATIONAL NORMS

6. (SBU) The GOI continues to act per international norms
and regulations. Indonesian officials are working full-time
to resolve the cases, and, in doing this, they are in close
touch with Australia, Sri Lanka, and international
organizations. As reported, there has been an up-tick in the
number of irregular migrants on their way to Australia
intercepted by the GOI this year. This situation is
overtaxing the capacity of the GOI and localities to deal
with it. Mission is in touch with the GOI, urging it to
continue down the constructive path it has chosen.

HUME

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