News / Asia

Australia Apologizes for Navy Incursion in Indonesian Waters

FILE - An Australian Navy boat (L) is positioned near a boat carrying 50 asylum seekers after it arrived at Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island, about 1615 miles northwest of Perth, Aug. 7, 2011.
FILE - An Australian Navy boat (L) is positioned near a boat carrying 50 asylum seekers after it arrived at Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island, about 1615 miles northwest of Perth, Aug. 7, 2011.
Phil Mercer
Australia's government has acknowledged its navy breached Indonesian territorial sovereignty as part of its controversial policy to stop boats carrying asylum seekers. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the incursions were “inadvertent,” but they could nonetheless further enflame tensions with Indonesia.
 
Australia has apologized to its northern neighbor after its navy entered Indonesian territorial waters several times without permission. Canberra will not say what its ships were doing, but has previously insisted that boats carrying asylum seekers from Indonesia would be forced to return by the military.
 
Reports have said that some vessels have already been turned around, although there has been no confirmation from Australian officials. The tow-back policy has angered Jakarta, which believes it would violate its sovereignty.
 
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has downplayed the suggestion that this episode will further damage bilateral ties that were strained by a spying scandal last year.
 
“Having an open and honest relationship and a positive relationship is one where you can raise these sort of matters when they occur and do so frankly and keep people informed and that's exactly what we've been doing,” said Morrison. “There are often difficult times in relationships and these current few months have, I think, been a case like that. But it's how you conduct the relationship in those difficult times that I think is important.”
 
Critics accuse Canberra of disregarding its neighbors in pursuit of a hardline asylum policy. Australia’s conservative government has pledged to stop a steady flow of unauthorized arrivals trying to reach its territorial waters from transit points in Indonesia. Many pay people-smugglers to make the perilous journey in often unsafe boats after fleeing conflicts in places like Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria.
 
Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the repeated and embarrassing breaches of Indonesian sovereignty prove the tow-back policy will not work.
 
“The minister is begging for forgiveness meanwhile carrying on that was always going to lead to this type of disaster,” said Hanson-Young.
 
The U.N. refugee agency has also warned that Australia could be breaking international law if it forces boats back to Indonesia without proper regard for passengers’ safety.
 
Australia grants visas to about 20,000 refugees each year under various international agreements.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid