Royal Australian Navy personnel open up about trauma of seeing asylum seekers die at sea.
Officers state that Navy vessels are being told not to board asylum seeker vessels until they reach Australian waters, and that one vessel sank as a result, with loss of life. One says that "Our vessel was delayed 15 hours for a boarding on one occasion and we got reports in from surveillance aircraft that that vessel had sunk 13 hours ago. All we found was probably a line about 70 miles long of bodies. We fished them out for as long as we could, 'til we were full. And that wasn't uncommon."
These incidents have been keep secret as part of Operation Sovereign Borders. When I said I believed that boats were still leaving Indonesia and that lives were still being lost, it seemed so abstract.
In September, the SBS news program Dateline reported on the torture and rape of asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka
. In late November, an asylum boat from Sri Lanka was intercepted near the Indonesian coastline and 37 asylum seekers were handed over
to the Sri Lankan navy and arrested. At least one, Indika Mendis, had previously been tortured
by Sri Lankan police, and has reportedly been tortured again
by Sri Lankan authorities after his arrest.
Another involuntary returnee, Zainullah Naseri, states he was abducted and tortured by the Taliban
after being sent to Afghanistan. However, the High Court prevented
the deportation of a second Afghani who had been told he could avoid persecution if he changed jobs.Cambodia
says it will only take "20 or 10 or 50 or 100 [refugees from Australia] or something like this. Not 1000 as people have said", in exchange for an additional $40 million in aid (to one of the world's most corrupt governments). Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the program will start with "four or five"
refugees and build up from there. The UNHCR and Amnesty have condemned
the deal and a coalition of human rights lawyers and groups have expressed particular concern for children
. Cambodians have protested
the deal: sex worker and advocate Sou Sotheavy points out that the country can barely take care of its own people, and says she doesn't expect the refugees will survive for long after they arrive. "Australia has abundant resources while we have few... this is difficult for me to understand."
ETA: This one dates all the way back to August: "While Syrian authorities are committing crimes against humanity including systematic killings and torture, Australia is doing the unthinkable – trying to send Syrians back home