October 21, 2103
Rescue operations in West Java when a boat carrying refugees sank in July. The issue of asylum seekers has become a source of tension between Indonesia and Australia in recent months. (EPA Photo/Andra Subhan)
Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta. Gunung Kidul district police arrested 30 people attempting to seek asylum in Australia after they failed to set sail from Parang Racuk beach in the regency on Saturday.
Gunung Kidul Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Faried Zulkarnaen said 13 of the them had come from Pakistan, 11 from Somalia, five from Myanmar and one from Eritrea.
They intended to travel to Christmas Island.
“They left their countries because of political turmoil and violent conflicts. They paid a Jakarta-based broker to smuggle them from Indonesia to Australia, but they were deceived,” Faried said.
The three smugglers involved in the case fled before the police were able to nab them. But Sandika and Dani — two men who were alleged to be assistants to the smugglers — were arrested.
Based on the investigation, the group arrived in Jakarta and traveled by land from the city without clear knowledge of their destination.
They then stayed in a hotel near Krakal beach in Yogyakarta and were subsequently taken to Parang Racuk beach in a truck on Friday night.
The smuggler’s boat was said to be waiting near Parang Racuk beach and was scheduled to take them to Christmas Island, but a dispute between the smugglers and asylum-seekers on the boat caused the broker to immediately leave them stranded in Parang Racuk beach along with the brokers’ assistants.
They attempted to escape when members from the local search-and-rescue team found them, but the team contacted police who deployed officers to capture them.
Faried noted that officers were involved in the operation from midnight Friday until the early hours of Saturday.
He added that after being interrogated, the group was taken to the immigration office in Yogyakarta.
Police are also investigating Sandika and Dani in hopes of tracing their employers who fled the area on a fishing boat to the eastern part of Parang Racuk beach.
Of the tree men who had fled, two are identified as Medi and Hedi Yunus.
The issue of asylum-seekers has become a source of tension between Indonesia and Australia in recent months, with the number of boats carrying them increasing.
In the latest incident, at least 28 asylum-seekers — many of whom were from the Middle East — drowned just off the coast of Java.
In August, former Australian Minister Kevin Rudd signed a much-criticized deal with Papua New Guinea in which it agreed to send boats carrying asylum-seekers to detention centers in Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia.
Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott turned much of the focus of his election campaign on stopping the number of asylum-seekers arriving by boats.
The government has stated that the policy has been effective in recent weeks.