Saturday, 13 June 2015

"Cash for turnbacks" - Indonesia shirtfronts Australia's ambassador, launches investigation

Far out. This is really hotting up now. The main stream media has even come up with a name for it, being "cash for turnbacks". Abbott's non-denial is looking pretty thin now.

New Zealand PM Key has confirmed the asylum seeker boat was heading to NZ. 

Two front bench Abbott gov ministers have denied any payment to people smuggler crew.

Indonesia has launched it's own independent investigation. 


The police chief on the island is adamantly  sticking to his story that the crew were paid. There is also a detailed account of what happened upon the boat getting to the island. 
Four days later the boat was intercepted by the navy and Mr Yohanis was interrogated by customs.

The captain reportedly agreed to be towed to Ashmore Reef, which is in Australian territorial waters, after the second interception because their boat was unseaworthy and unlikely to reach New Zealand.

The official report says an Australian official named Agus, who spoke fluent Indonesian, told Mr Yohanis that Australia would not accept the asylum seekers.

"From the communication, he was generous and said: 'We can't accept you brought us immigrants here. Each of you will be given $US5000. With one condition: that you go back to Indonesia, use it for business and never do this kind of work ever again'," Agus reportedly told the crew.

The 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar were then transferred onto two wooden boats called Jasmine and Kanak. They were given a map of Rote island, life jackets and food and sent back to Indonesia.

Seaweed farmers on Landu island, the southernmost populated island of Indonesia, spotted the asylum seekers stranded on rocks at 4.30pm on May 31.

Some of the crew swum ashore and hired a local fisherman's boat to Rote.

While most of the asylum seekers had put on lifejackets and were swimming ashore, village chief Semuel Messak says 10 people, mostly women and children, were still stranded on board the Kanak. One woman was breast feeding.

When all of the asylum seekers had been evacuated in small boats, they gathered at Mr Semuel's home.

The whole village provided clothes, with Mr Semuel donating 18 sarongs and his wife cooked them noodles, fish and rice.

Police took the asylum seekers to Rote the following day.

Police chief Hidayat said humanity was the first consideration for Indonesians when dealing with asylum seekers.

"They are not animals, they are people," he said. "What if it was us in their shoes?" more
Well well well. Has the knee jerk reaction by Abbott's front bench to lie and deny now gotten them into a real pickle?