Another boat, believed to be carrying up to 180 asylum seekers, made a distress call to Australian authorities at about 4.30am (AEST) time this morning. The call said the boat was about 50 nautical miles south of Indonesia and heading to Christmas Island, and its engine had failed and that it was taking on water. ABC Online said the HMAS Wollongong was searching for the boat, but it had not been found.
The search and rescue of some 90 asylum seekers still missing at sea continues after a boat capsized 200 kilometres from Christmas Island on June 21. Sydney's Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on June 22. * * * From the timeline of contacts between Australian authorities and the capsized asylum boat indicated by Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare, it seems that more timely action by the Australian rescue authorities could have averted the latest asylum boat tragedy.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on March 20. *** Two Afghan refugees were taken in handcuffs from Darwin to Christmas Island on the afternoon of March 18. Refugee advocates have called for the immediate end of the use of Christmas Island as a punishment centre and have called for a full inquiry into Serco and its system of harsh, unaccountable, and arbitrary punishments. Serco has become the judge, jury and jailer of asylum seekers within Australia’s detention regime.
The situation inside every one of Australia’s refugee detention centres has grown dangerously volatile. Just days after the Christmas Island breakout and subsequent protests, nine refugees climbed on the roof of a detention centre in Darwin after watching the assault of another refugee on March 15. Two days later, a 20-year-old Afghan man hanged himself with a bedsheet at the Scherger detention centre after his refugee application was rejected.
Federal immigration minister Chris Bowen announced plans for a new 1500-bed detention facility on March 3. It is to be located at Wickham Point, an industrial area 35 kilometres south-east of Darwin. The March 4 NT News said the Darwin Airport Lodge, which currently houses refugees, would also be expanded by 400 beds. This would bring Darwin’s total detention capacity to 2900, making the city the largest detention location on the mainland — larger even than the notoriously overcrowded Christmas Island facility.
Michael Kumarasamy, one of the asylum seekers accused of being involved in a riot between Tamil and Afghan detainees at Christmas Island detention centre in November 2009, attended his trial on June 18 … about two hours late. Kumarasamy’s lawyer, Simon Freitag, had emailed Perth Immigration Detention Centre to ensure staff there knew when the case was on. When his client was late, he again rang Perth IDC.
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