News / Asia

Australia Silent on Reported Interception of Asylum Seekers at Sea

FILE - Sri Lankan asylum seekers stay on their traditional boat near Dili's port.
FILE - Sri Lankan asylum seekers stay on their traditional boat near Dili's port.
Phil Mercer

Australia is refusing to discuss the fate of dozens of Tamil asylum seekers reportedly intercepted in the country’s northern waters. Reports have suggested two asylum seeker boats have been intercepted by Australian authorities in the Indian Ocean, and that some of the passengers are to be transferred to the Sri Lankan navy at sea.

Reports have indicated that two boats carrying asylum seekers from Sri Lanka were intercepted by the Australian navy about a week ago. One of the vessels is believed to have left southern India last month with 150 Tamils on board, but there has been no contact with refugee groups since the weekend.

Campaigners insist that some of the asylum seekers are to be transferred to a Sri Lankan navy ship and repatriated. The U.N. refugee agency has expressed “profound concern” over the reported plans to forcibly return the group to a country under investigation for alleged war crimes committed during its civil war that ended in 2009.

Quizzed at a news conference Thursday, Australia’s immigration minister, Scott Morrison, refused to make public any details about the operation. On Friday, he canceled a visit to a detention center in the southern city Melbourne after protesters planned to confront him.

Information about asylum seekers arriving by sea has been tightly controlled by the government, which has instructed the military to tow or turn back asylum boats trying to reach its northern waters.

Lucy Honan, from the Refugee Action Collective, accuses the Australian government of hiding the truth about the asylum boats.

“When you have the Sri Lankan government admitting that there is some kind of transfer going on at sea between the Australian government and themselves that is pretty infuriating. I mean, even the U.N. has now said that is something of huge concern. We are concerned about it because those asylum seekers have rights to seek asylum in Australia from that government that our government is returning them to,” said Honan.

Following last September’s federal election, the conservative government promised tough measures to stem a steady flow of unauthorized arrivals coming by sea.

It is using the military to patrol the nation’s maritime borders, and reopened offshore refugee camps in the South Pacific.

Ministers said their aims are twofold; to protect Australia’s borders and to discourage asylum seekers from making the perilous sea crossing from transit points in Indonesia, or from Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia.

However, critics have insisted the policies unfairly target vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

Australia grants about 13,000 refugee visas each year under various international agreements.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shiva from: Canada
July 04, 2014 9:43 AM
Australia's history is well known. The world knows how the convicts deported by the British treated the native Aboriginals in Australia and it looks that the current Australian regime leaders have the same DNA. India should use its muscle and claim Australia (like China claiming many areas around China) as the DNA of the Aboriginals and the Dravidian Tamils are the same and put an end to Australian inhuman behaviour and not respecting international values.

In Response

by: Nevil from: Sydney
July 05, 2014 10:55 PM
It is so rediculuse to keep hearing such comments about how the British treated the Aborigineals years ago.
So what's has changed. ? How are people in troubled countries being treated any diffrently today , than the Australian Aboriginals were .? Have you seen lateley how many people are being massacared in Iraq by ISIS. and what about the persecutions in Siria, and may other parts of this insane world , and what about Hitlers Holocost. ?
Also tell me, why are so many people being displaced from troubled countries ,is it because of british uncivilised cruelty Or is it because nothing has changed but things just got a lot worse since Cain killed his brother Abel in the garden of Eden thousands of years ago.
If anything about the Aboriginal people today is, that they are now being too spoiled by every Australian government. The Aboriginal people are not the once jumping on leaky boats and invading other countries.

In Response

by: Ian from: USA
July 04, 2014 8:26 PM
Perhaps Australia is wrong to hand the Tamils back to Sri Lankan authority . However , each country has a right to accept or not accept whoever tries to enter its land.
Why should Australia have to take in everyone . Maybe India should take the responsibility for the Tamils if the Sri Lankan Sinhalese would not . After all , you , the Indians, Tamils and Sinhalese are kissing cousins DNA wise .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid