Refugee Action Coalition NSW media release A year ago, then prime Minister Kevin Rudd called Indonesian President Yudhoyono requesting that the Indonesian navy intercept a boat carrying 254 Tamil asylum seekers to Australia. The boat was the subject of international attention after the asylum seekers refused to disembark at Merak in Indonesia. In April 2010, the asylum seekers were forcibly removed to Tanjung Pinang detention centre. Except for two families shifted to detention in Medan, all the Tamils remain in appalling conditions in Tanjung Pinang.
Over April 19-20, Indonesian police and naval officers forced almost 150 Tamils onto buses at Port Merak and took them to the Tanjung Pinang detention centre. For seven months, more than 250 Tamils had withstood appalling conditions aboard a squalid boat at the West Java port. Their hope was for refugee status in Australia. Their fear was of being locked up in Indonesian detention centres or deported back to Sri Lanka.