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The night the refugee boat sank: victims tell their stories

June 04, 2013

By: , south Asia correspondent

On 21 June (the date has been rectified here) 2012 a boat carrying refugees on the 6,000-mile journey from Pakistan to Australia sank with the loss of 94 lives. The Guardian spoke to the survivors and tells the story of international criminal networks and a web of corruption across the far east. Their accounts reveal the plight of desperate refugees forced to pay exorbitant sums.

Refugees rescued by the JPO Vulpecula

There was almost no warning. The boat had stopped about 10 minutes earlier. Since then it had rocked gently in the swell, settling lower in the water. Its Indonesian crew shouted to one another, increasingly agitated.

On the roof of the open wooden outsize fishing boat, Mohammed Ishaq was shaken awake by another refugee. “Get up, the boat is sinking,” he was told. But even as he stood, the 31-year-old Afghan-born Pakistani felt the deck tilting sharply under his feet. He slid, fell and hit the water.

It was 24 June 2012. The boat was 107 nautical miles from the nearest land. Of the 204 refugees aboard, almost all from Afghanistan or Pakistan, 94 would die.

It was one of the worst of the growing number of sinkings involving illegal immigrants attempting the 6,000-mile journey to Australia from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Only now can the full story be told.

On one level it involves thousands of men, women and children, transnational criminal networks, tens of millions of dollars and a corroding web of corruption across the far east and further afield. On another, it means hundreds of drowned fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, mothers and babies, and thousands of bereaved relatives.

Only a week before Ishaq was plunged into the water, 93 died when another boat making its way to Christmas Island had sunk. There have been many more shipwrecks since, Afghan community representatives in Australia say, in which around 300 men, women and children have drowned. There are others which go unreported. Up to 600 have died in the past two or three years, they say, though they point out that the true figure is impossible to know.

This summer thousands more will attempt the perilous journey.

Officials from the governments of Pakistan, from where most of the refugees come, and of Indonesia, through which most of the refugees transit, privately admit they cannot stem the flow. Australia is trying to discourage prospective asylum seekers with new laws, offshore processing centres and with offers to take more refugees who choose to enter the country legally. But such measures appear to have little impact. The only barriers currently are natural – not man-made.

Ishaq’s story


Ishaq

Ishaq’s story is typical. The 31-year-old comes from the seething Pakistani port city of Karachi, where his family have lived since emigrating from a rural area of central Afghanistan 25 years ago. He grew up in the middle class Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighbourhood, happy to be away from his turbulant homeland. Years in school and college passed without incident. Then, shortly after his marriage, security in the city began to deteriorate rapidly. Ishaq became a target.

Like most of the refugees with him on the boat, Ishaq was a Hazara, an ethnic minority in Afghanistan and Pakistan whose distinctive features and devotion to the Shia strand of Islam in countries dominated by Sunni Muslims has long meant marginalisation. But in Karachi, and the western city of Quetta where a large Hazara community is based, discrimination has turned deadly.

In both cities squads of Sunni militants have begun attacking Shias, and particulary Hazaras. The violence has intensified each month. Two of Ishaq’s relatives were shot, one paralysed from the waist down. Ishaq himself received threats. In late 2011, he decided, reluctantly, he had to leave. “Of course I didn’t want to go. I had my family, my wife, my business [a corner shop]. But I had no choice,” he told the Guardian.

Ishaq chose Australia because it was the “only country” he knew “that was accepting refugees”. Getting to western Europe was too dangerous. Other states in the region did not offer asylum. In Australia, Ishaq knew too he would find friends and relatives amid the growing Hazara community.

Friends in Quetta put Ishaq in touch with “people” who could organise his trip. He would pay in instalments, with $4,000 paid up front to reach Malaysia and then another $3,000 to get from there to Indonesia. He said goodbye to his parents and wife and left in the first week of 2012, on a plane to Kuala Lumpur. That year, 320 Shia Muslims were killed in Pakistan.

Ali Hasaan Kaka


Ali Hasaan Kaka

In Quetta itself, another family was bracing itself for separation. Ali Hasaan Kaka, a 38-year-old bank clerk with a love for Hazaran cooking and practical jokes, and his 32-year-old cousin, Imran, were spending a last evening at dinner with their extended family, his sister in law remembers. The pair had paid $14,000 to an agent for the trip. “We all ate together and chatted a lot about what future may hold for us. Ali hoped that after a few month in Australia, all of us will go there. My sister was scared at his idea of leaving Pakistan in such a risky manner but encouraged him to go in search of greener pastures,” she told the Guardian.

To the north, high on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan, dozens of other young men were also preparing to depart for Australia. They too were Hazaras, living in Parachinar, a remote, rough town in the volatile semi-autonomous tribal agency of Kurram. Here too sectarian violence was intense. A report by the Pakistani federal investigation agency seen by the Guardian, describes a meeting in September 2011. Five men from Kurram travelled to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, for a meeting with an agent. Between then and January 2012, the men paid a total of over $90,000 to the agent for sending 10 of their sons, cousins and brothers to Australia “for work”. One was Abdul Aziz, a 45-year-old illiterate labourer and father of five.

“Seeing the persecution of Shias in our city, he borrowed $10,000 and left for Thailand en route to Australia,” his brother-in-law said in a telephone interview from Parachinar.

The agent, investigators in Pakistan say, ran the westernmost end of a massive operation with contacts all the way to Australia. They called it the Tajir Travel Agency, after the shop in the frontier city of Peshawar which acted as a front office for the network.

Malaysia to Indonesia

When Ishaq arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport he bought a sim card and called a number he had been given by traffickers in Karachi. Within an hour, a Malaysian man linked, according to the Pakistani report, to the Tajir Travel Agency, had picked him up. The agency’s key operator here was from the Pashtun tribes along the Afghan-Pakistan frontier, the Pakistani investigators say. After a night alone in a house in the Malaysian capital, Ishaq was joined by a dozen other Hazaras who had followed an identical path.

Back home, his family paid another $3,000 to their contact and a week later, the group were driven to a beach three hours from Kuala Lumpur. They boarded a boat and, after four hours on calm seas at night, landed in Indonesia. Taken to an airport, they then flew to Jakarta. With no visas, they went underground in a private home in the city of Bogor nearby.

Ishaq’s parents had trouble finding the $5,000 needed for onward travel. He stayed in the house for five months, sleeping with up to a dozen others in two rented rooms.

Eventually, after five months, his family wired the dollars. Then his contact with the network called. Get to a shopping centre in Jakarta, she said. At the mall, dozens of other young Afghan and Pakistani men were waiting. Another call directed him to take a taxi to a new address – a bus stand. Four coaches were loaded with 200 young Afghan men and driven into the night.

Among the refugees on the buses that night were Ali Hasaan Kaka, the former banker who had left Quetta to seek “greener pastures” two months earlier, and his cousin. Kaka had made a final call home. “He spoke to my sister from Indonesia, saying, ‘Please don’t be worried if my phone does not work as we will be leaving for Australia very soon.’ We all were nervous and happy at the same time,” his sister-in-law remembered

The fact that a convoy carrying 200 or more men without visas could drive across the crowded centre of Java even at night indicates that local security forces had been paid off, said one western official based in Indonesia.

The man organising the onward travel of Ishaq and the others, according to evidence heard in an Indonesian court, was Dawood Amiri, an ethnic Hazara who, like his clients, had fled Pakistan and come to Indonesia hoping to cross to Australia before being detained a year before. On his release, prosecutors said, he had become a significant “second-rank” player in the trafficking business and had organised three previous sailings, without incident. He was the local representative of the Tajir Travel Agency.

Western investigators working on trafficking say that such “franchises” are common. Refugees heading from Asia to Europe are passed from network to network, each a separate organisation. But in the far east the networks are more integrated, acting as a “courier system” through which “packages” – people – can be moved along chains of trusted intermediaries. In each location, local representatives develop the relationships with the authorities that are needed to smooth the way.

Though much larger sums went to higher officials to allow entry of refugees at airports or in return for information about planned anti-trafficking operations, Amiri told investigators, each police checkpoint on the 150-mile drive across Java required a bribe of $200 or more.


The route taken by the refugees

At sea

With local authorities take care of, the refugees reached a beach on the south coast of Java at around midnight. There were smaller boats waiting to take them to a larger vessel, miles offshore. As they approached the boat that was supposed to take them to Christmas Island, Ishaq knew that his worst fears had been realised.

“There were men everywhere, all over the deck, shouting to us to go back, that there was no space, that the boat would sink, that we would drown,” he remembered. “I was terrified. But how could we go back?”

Pushed aboard by the press of men behind him, he fought his way through the crowd and grabbed one of the last life jackets. “The old and the weak were pushed aside,” he remembered. The traffickers had taken his mobile phone. He had just his clothes, passport, wallet and a few hundred dollars.

At dawn, the ship got under way. The refugees saw a few fishing boats. Then nothing. The few bottles of water, supply of tinned cheese and bags of dry noodles on board were grossly inadequate for 200 men for a five or six-day journey.

One of the refugees on the boat was Abdul Aziz, the Parachinar labourer with five children. After three days at sea, he used the crew’s single satellite phone, to call home.

“He spoke to us from the boat on 21 June,” his brother-in-law said. “He said, ‘We are leaving for Australia and I will call you from there.’ When he spoke to his only daughter, then six years old, he promised to bring her dolls and clothes.”

But that night a crew member fell asleep and allowed the engine and the pumps to run out of fuel. The hold of the leaky, overburdened boat rapidly filled with water.

“It happened very fast. The boat just capsized. Everyone went in the water. People were very scared and shouting, trying to grab each other, fighting and sinking and pulling each other down,” Ishaq said.

It was around 2am and very dark. There were no life rafts, and only half the refugees had managed to grab one of the worn-out life belts heaped in the boat’s hold.

Though 30 or 40 people managed to clamber on to the hull, the rest were left in the waves. Almost none could swim. Ishaq, treading water, tightened the strings on his own life jacket as a current drew him away.

“I thank God there were no women or children on the boat, just young men and teenagers,” he said.

After a few hours, the strings on his lifejacket parted. He held it with one hand and swam with the other. Bodies floated on the water. Men shouted to each other, then their voices faded as they sank beneath the waves. “We prayed and cried and tried to encourage each other. They died before my eyes. My own hopes were fading,” he said.

After nearly 24 hours in the water, a plane flew low overhead, but dropped a raft full of supplies too far away for the exhausted refugees. A second aircraft dropped an inflatable tube. Ishaq hung on to it. An hour later an Australian naval vessel picked up survivors and took them Christmas Island.

“I was looking for my friends but there were so few of us. So many had drowned,” he said. Among them was the food-loving banker Ali Hasaan Kaka, his cousin, and Ali Abdul Aziz, the labourer from Parachinar.

A week later, another boat would sink, this time with the loss of about 65 asylum-seekers. During the last days of August, about 100 heading to Christmas Island may have drowned in two incidents. Other boats have simply disappeared. More than 200 died in March when another vessel sank, according to reports in Pakistan. Last month news reached Quetta and Parachinar of another shipwreck in which about 60 died.

Aftermath

The only good news is that the Tajir Travel Agency network has been wound up. One member, a Pakistani policeman, was arrested in Quetta. Four others were picked up a genteel neighbourhood on the outskirts of Islamabad last month. They confessed to receiving £700,000 from their clients. Investigators told the Guardian this figure was a fraction of the total.

Two other members of the network were detained in Indonesia. One, Dawood Amiri, who organised the 21 June sailing, was sentenced in February to six years in prison. When he was arrested 84 mobile phones were found in his possession, taken from the refugees.


Dawood Amiri. Photo: Achmad Ibrahim, AP

Kaka’s family learned about the shipwreck from local newspapers. “None of us believed it initially. Now that we … don’t talk about it within the family,” Kaka’s sister-in-law said. “His fiancee, my sister, has been extremely depressed but is now improving a bit. My father has now understood that Kaka is gone but won’t talk to anyone about him at all.”

The consequences for Abdul Aziz’s large family have been severe. With the only wage earner gone, his eldest son had left school and works in a bakery. His house is to be sold to pay off debts.

“We have no plan for life ahead,” said Abdul Hussein, his brother in law, “I cannot look in the eyes of my sister, even now a year after he left. I don’t blame him. My own 16 year old son was shot dead in a sectarian killing shortly after Abdul Aziz was drowned.”

Ishaq, the survivor, is unsure what advice he would give to those planning their own bid to reach Australia. “If your life is safe and you have a choice then don’t do it, it isn’t worth the risk,” Ishaq said. “But if you have no alternative …”

Additional reporting: Naveed Ahmad, Islamabad

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/03/night-refugee-boat-sank-victims?CMP=twt_gu#undefined

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“Another Boat Tragedy” by Habib Manavi – the lone survivor

April 19, 2013

in pakistan1

 

 

 

 

 

By Habib Manavi – edited by our staff

Another tragic incident happened in Indonesian Waters on April 11, 2013. There were almost 72 people on board on the boat – all ethnic Hazaras from war-torn Afghanistan. Only fourteen of them managed to escape the likely death after being rescued by fishermen, the rest are unknown to this date and most likely have fallen prey to the evil of sea and the reluctance of rescue agencies. BASARNAS – the Indonesian rescue agency had not only been informed by their counterpart in Australia but also by the survivors who had been captured by Immigration authorities once their foot touched the shores but an immediate search and rescue response did not take place, why? no one has the answer.

According to survived asylum seeker the boat capsized on Thursday at around 12 noon after nearly 10 hours of resistance against the rough waves. The Fourteen fortunate souls had gripped themselves to boat wreckage which eventually saved their lives whilst others were floating on the water and by evening had gone out of sight. There wasn’t any tool or water safety kits which could have helped them in resisting the waves. They had nothing with them and their phones were being confiscated once they  boarded the boat.

The unexpected help came after 24 hours, not from a rescue agency but some fishermen agreed to transport them to the nearest shore only if they pay $100 each to them.The fishermen handed these survivors to the local police station which arose the hope that they would be helped and measures would be taken to rescue the rest left at the sea but unfortunately none happened. Their belongings and money, they had with them in their little stitched pockets, were taken – steal is good word, by the Indonesian Police and in return they were told they could flee.

The ill-fated asylum seekers after being looted by police reached Bogor and approached International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) to get some sort of help from them but were refused straight away.

“We thought, IOM will help us and admit us to hospital as we were very sick, our face had burned down and infected, but surprisingly even looking at our obvious physical sickness, they (IOM) refused to provide any medical assistance” summarized a survivor in his own words.

This boat tragedy once again question marks the capability and ability of Indonesian rescue agencies who receive fund and logistic support from Australian counterpart. Despite knowing the fact that there was a distressed boat, BASARNAS, did not bother to send its team for rescue and search of the area. This apathy and irresponsibility utterly demonstrates the very indifference attitude of the authorities towards asylum seekers.

At present, the fourteen survivors are in Cisarua, Bogor – terrified, mentally paralyzed and also frightened that the smuggler may harm them for revealing their names to media. If they don’t receive any humanitarian assistance from the concerned organizations, they might again put themselves in waters.

Habib’s own story of survival can be read here: http://hazaraasylumseekers.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/sole-survivor-of-boat-tragedy-habib-writes-his-memoirs/

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Asylum boat sunk en-route to Christmas Island

November 14, 2012

Image Source: Google

Another boat sinking tragedy has been confirmed today, speaking to Mohammad Ishaq – his friend in Australia, the only survivor of the tragedy named Habib said that the boat was carrying 34 passengers and left Indonesia on Eid ul Adha’s eve on 26th of October 2012. It sank after sailing 12 hours towards Christmas Island. Habib who witnessed the disastrous voyage before his eyes, had seen his fellows drowning and pleading for help. Whereabouts of other 33 asylum seekers are still unknown and as two weeks have passed since the tragedy, the hope for their survival is fading.

Habib had swum for four days until a fisher man rescued and subsequently handed him to Indonesian Immigration Authorities. He is now detained in Jakarta’s Konengan Detention Centre. The smuggler behind the organizing of this boat has been identified as “Syed Sikander” who has reportedly organized several boat trips to Australia.

All the on-board passengers belonged to Hazara community – the most persecuted ethnic and religious minority, fleeing from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

Ironically, Indonesian Rescue Agency BASARNAS, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (ASMA) and either side’s media [Australia + Indonesia] did not report this tragedy. Even UNHCR, in whose custody the only survivor of this tragedy is now, refrained from reporting this boat tragedy to media.

The boat is the latest in a string of vessels attempt the dangerous crossing to Australia’s northwest. This tragedy brings back the painful memories of the 3 other  boats carrying 34 asylum seekers in August, 22 in May and 67 in June this year, that went missing without being reported on media or by the concerned authorities.

Following are the names of the some on board asylum seekers;

  1. Taqi
  2. Hakim
  3. Haji Jawad
  4. Muhammad Sharif
  5. Habibullah
  6. Kaka Salim
  7. Azeem
  8. Muhammad Atif
  9. Abdul Rahim
  10. Karim
  11. Hameedullah
  12. Haji Ibrahim

*If media personnel are interested to interview the only survivor of this tragedy or seeking more information, please email us at asylumseekershazara@gmail.com

Additional reporting: Arif Hazara

تارکین وطن کی ایک کشتی جوکے عید الاضحی کی پہلی رات  بتاریخ 26 اکتوبر ٢٠١٢ ، 34 افراد کو لیکر آسٹریلیا کی طرف آرہی تھی ، ڈوب گئی ہیں – اب تک ملنے والی تفصیلات کے مطابق صرف ایک پناہ گزیں جس کی شناخت حبیب کے نام سے ہوئی ہے ‘ زندہ بچ جانے میں کامیاب ہوا ہے ، جبکے باقی تاحال لاپتا ہیں -

اپنے دوست محمد اسحاق سے فون پر بات کرتے ہویے حبیب نے کہا کہ وہ دیگر ٣٣ افراد کے ہمراہ عید الاضحی کی پہلی رات کو ایک چھوٹی سی ماہیگیر کشتی میں سوار ہوکر آسٹریلیا کی طرف روانہ ہویے مگر صرف ١٢ گھنٹے بعد ہی کشتی سمندر کی تیز لہروں کی تاب نہ لاتے ہوے ڈوب گئی – حبیب مسلسل چار دن تک پانی میں تیرتے اور اپنے دوستوں کے ڈوبنے کے اور چیخ پکار کا منظر دیکھتے رہے – بلا آخر ایک انڈونیشیائی ماہی گیر کی مدد سے حبیب خشکی میں پہنچنے میں کامیاب ہوگیا اور ابھی جکارتہ کے مضافات میں قائم حراستی مرکز میں قید ہیں -

کشتی میں سوار تمام افراد کہ تعلق ہزارہ قوم سے تھا – اس کشتی کو بھیجنے والے سمگلر کی شناخت سید سکندر کے نام سے ہوئی ہے جو کے کے کشتیوں کو آسٹریلیا بھیجنے میں ملوث ہیں -

نہایت سے افسوس کے ساتھ کہنا پڑ رہا ہیں کے آسٹریلوی وانڈونیشیائی حکام میں سے اب تک کسی نے بھی اس حادثے پر کوئی بیان جاری نہیں کی اور نہ ہی بین الاقوامی میڈیا میں اسے خبر کے طور پر پیش کیا گیا ہیں ، حتی کہ UNHCR جس کی نگرانی میں حبیب اس وقت قید ہے ‘ نے بھی اس بارے تفصیلات سے اخباری نمائندوں کو آگاہ کرنے سے اجتناب کیا ہیں -

یہ اس سال ڈوبنے والی مسلسل چوتھی کشتی ہیں جو اتنا بڑا انسانی المیہ ہونے کے باوجود اخباری خبر نہ بن سکی

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Search launched for asylum-seeker boat after distress calls in Indonesian waters

August 29, 2012

asylum boat

A boat carrying 150 suspected asylum seekers is reportedly sinking. Source: Getty Images

A SEARCH has failed to find any trace of an asylum-seeker boat carrying an estimated 150 passengers after reports it was in distress off the coast of Indonesia.

The Indonesian search and rescue authority Basarnas said the wooden boat was early today reported to be in trouble or sinking in the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra, and about 220 nautical miles from Christmas Island.

It also advised of reports of drownings.

However a spokesman for Basarnas said at least four vessels and two helicopters had searched the area today without finding any sign of the missing boat.

Gagah Prakoso said late this afternoon (AEST) the search had found no evidence of a boat sinking, survivors or bodies, and had been suspended.

Basanas had been alerted to the emergency by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority early today and vessels had been sent from Jakarta and Merak, but returned without success.

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Helicopters involved in the search had also returned to base.

Commercial shipping through the heavily-travelled Sunda Strait was alerted.

“After hours of searching around the site where it’s said to be sunk, we found nothing. There’s no sign at all if the boat sank,” Prakoso said.

“Usually when a boat sinks, there should be a sign, maybe one or two people may be floating using parts of the boat.

“But there’s nothing.”

Basarnas said the caller to AMSA had reported that the wooden boat was carrying about 150 people, and was sinking at a location in waters off Ujung Kulon, an area on the westernmost tip of Java.

The call to AMSA, made using a satellite phone, was the last contact with the missing boat.

Canberra is facing a steady influx of asylum-seekers arriving in Australia by boat, many of whom use Indonesia as a transit hub, boarding leaky wooden vessels after fleeing their home countries.

Australian authorities this month said 300 boatpeople had died en route to the country this year, with boats being intercepted by the Australian navy almost on a daily basis.

A high-level meeting between Australian and Indonesian officials will be held next week at which the issue of maritime co-operation, including in the area of search and rescue, is set to be discussed.

The boats continue to arrive despite Labor adopting a new hardline policy of sending asylum-seekers to be processed on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

The policy switch followed the report earlier this month by a panel of experts led by former defence chief Angus Houston, which had been “deeply concerned” about the loss of life at sea.

It said from late 2001 to June 2012, 964 asylum-seekers and boat crew had been lost at sea while en route to Australia. Of these, 604 people had died since October 2009.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/asylum-seeker-boat-in-distress-reports/story-fn9hm1gu-1226460912885

 

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Asylum boat issues distress call

July 10, 2012

An asylum seeker boat carrying about 85 people has issued a distress call south of Indonesia.

Australian and Indonesian search and rescue authorities are responding to the distress call from the boat believed to be 43 nautical miles south of West Java.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination centre received a telephone call from a person on the vessel requesting assistance at about 8am WST.

AMSA advised Indonesian search and rescue agency BASARNAS, which is coordinating the response.

“Initial reports are that the vessel has about 85 people on board,” AMSA said in a statement today.

Two merchant vessels have arrived on the scene.

A Customs and Border Protection surveillance aircraft has also spotted the vessel, which is showing no signs of distress.

HMAS Childers and ACV Triton have been deployed in support.

The vessels are expected to arrive in the area in the coming hours.

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/14187764/asylum-boat-issues-distress-call/

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A factual report on the origin and departure venue of the capsized asylum boat (June 21, 2012)

June 22, 2012

On the basis of following evidences we can now confirm that there was only one distressed boat carrying 200+ asylum seekers departed from Indonesia [not Sri Lanka] and majority on board are from Afghanistan; however there were passengers from other nationalities as well – including Parachinar, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Middle East.

  • We acquired a message from a Hazara fellow, saying that He had now spoken to someone on Christmas Island, who has confirmed him that his [on board]Hazara friend has safely arrived in Island on a navy ship from the point of disaster.
  • An Iranian asylum-seeker in Indonesia has spoken with the ABC’s Helen Brown in Jakarta of the fear he is feeling for a friend, who he believes was on the capsized vessel. He has been trying to phone his friend since hearing about the search and rescue operation yesterday, but the phone keeps cutting out. (ABC News 24 live blog)
  • Mr. Prakoso head of search operation in Indonesia whose statement about the departure venue of the boat which he apparently said ‘Sri Lanka’ has been quoted in many leading news websites. In his recent statement to The Jakarta Globe, He retreated from his previous statement and said “the boat was reportedly carrying 206 people, but added that he could not yet say their country of origin or from where they departed”. (The Jakarta Globe)

We believe that this mass confusion over the departure venue of the distressed vessel rose, when Australian authorities sent a fax on TUESDAY to Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, about a distressed boat in Indonesian waters who they believed were Sri Lankans, according to Mr. Parakoso – spokesman Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, they responded as per information and sent rescuers to the designated location but couldn’t find any boat and therefore abandoned the operation.

On THURSDAY, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) sent another fax to their counterpart in Indonesia, but this time it was about the new distressed vessel carrying 200+ asylum seekers not stating anything about the vessel’s origin/departure venue but Mr. Parakoso deemed that the second fax is the continuation of the first fax about the distressed Sri Lankan boat that he had received on TUESDAY. Thus talking to media, he cited the first fax and quite surely said the troubled vessel left Sri Lanka and was heading to Christmas Island. Except from Mr. Parakoso, who himself is in Indonesia and the tragedy occurred north of Christmas Island, Australians authorities till now have not stated anything about the vessel’s origin.

Now we are pretty sure passengers on board were from different nationalities but it did not depart from Sri Lanka.

(Note: We have concluded this short factual piece after ensuing numerous news agencies as well as our internal sources)

Faxes sent between Australian and Indonesian rescue authorities, charting the the lead-up to the asylum seeker disaster

Sources: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/06/21/boat-with-200-aboard-capsizes-indonesia.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-22/live-blog-of-asylum-seeker-disaster/4085540

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