Australia sends six Bangladeshi refugees to Indonesia

Australian border patrol sends six Bangladeshi refugees to Indonesia in fishing boat

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

A boat loaded with refugees was driven onto rocks at Christmas Island in 2010, twenty-seven asylum seekers died.

Six Bangladeshi refugees caught by Australian border patrol have been sent to Indonesia in a fishing boat, an Indonesian official said on Thursday.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry criticised the move and repeated its opposition to Australia’s refugee policy, pointing out this type of action would not provide a permanent solution to illegal refugee problem.

The ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Jakarta's position on the policy remained unchanged.

"We do not support such acts, especially when done on water. It could potentially be dangerous," he told reporters.

The six Bangladeshi men and two Indonesian crew departed from Indonesia last week. They reached Australia after three days at sea but ran into engine trouble, and were rescued by Australia's border patrol as their boat began to sink.

"After several days of sailing, the Australian customs vessel then entered Indonesian waters and handed the men over to an Indonesian fishing boat," Local police chief Teddy John Sahala Marbun said.

"They gave the fishermen fuel and other logistics, and asked them to return the men to East Nusa Tengarra (Indonesia)."

Australia's boat push-back policy is a sensitive issue in the Indonesia-Australia relationship. Indonesia considers the policy an insult to its sovereignty and an example of one country pushing its responsibility onto another.


Pro-refugee activists keep vigil outside the Mater Hospital in Brisbane on February 21, 2016 .

Australia’s policy towards asylum seekers has also faced protests at home. A refugee baby named Asha, brought from a Pacific detention camp for health purposes was sent back to the camp, causing protests from doctors and other people this February.

In another case, in June 2015, an Indonesian captain and his crew claimed  Australia paid $30,000 for refugees to turn their boat back to Indonesia. The case attracted reaction from local and international media.

Australia’s harsh policy of intercepting and turning back boats that are trying to reach Australia has prevented the flow of refugees, but some still try to make the journey.

Indonesian immigration officials are still questioning the Bangladeshis about how they managed to enter the country, while police search for other possible suspects.

TRTWorld and agencies