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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid