Merak Boat 'Alex' Responds to Media Reports
Refugee Action Collective
In response to reports in the Australian media today (Monday), "Alex" has issued the following statement from the asylum boat at Merak:
"Alex” statement from Merak, Indonesia (9 November, 2009):
In response to the information that the Sri Lankan government released about me I have spoken to journalists because I wanted to be open with the people who have supported us.
The Sri Lankan government released the information to try to discredit me, and intimidate the 250 asylum seekers on the boat at Merak, Indonesia. The issue is not any one individual, the issue is the right to asylum for people fleeing danger in Sri Lanka.
We will not be silenced or intimidated. The Sri Lankan government is trying to interfere with our right to have a fair hearing for our claims for asylum in a safe country.
The Sri Lankan government is desperate to divert attention away from its role in human rights abuses, particularly against Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Accusations that I am a people smuggler is completely false. The fact that I lived in Canada for a period of time, and was, removed from Canada has no bearing whatsoever on my claim or the claim of the other 250 people for asylum.
The information released by the Sri Lankan government may also have endangered my family as well as family and friends of other asylum seekers on the boat. We will hold the Sri Lankan government responsible should any harm come to them.
It must be clear that the Sri Lankan government has no respect for human rights or the particular rights of asylum seekers. We trust that the issue of human rights and the rights of asylum seekers is high on the agenda of the Australian delegation visiting Sri Lanka today. The call by National Party leader in Australia for Tamil asylum seekers to be returned to Sri Lanka is ill-informed, reckless and is endangering people’s lives.
The Australian government is a signatory to the Refugee Convention. The Indonesian government is not. We have not even seen a representative of the UNHCR. There is no proper processing or prospect of re-settlement for asylum seekers in Indonesia.
Our claims for asylum should not be subjected to trial by media, by the Sri Lankan government or anyone else. They should be properly dealt with in Australia.
The only just solution to the situation is that all asylum seekers at Merak and the 78 Tamils on the Oceanic Viking be brought to Australia.
Our future is in your hands. On behalf of the people on the boat, I thank you, the people of Australia and all those around the world who are supporting us.