Indonesia concerned as Australia turns back asylum seekers

Indonesia voices concern as Australia turns back 16 refugees who arrived on Christmas Island last Friday

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Asylum seekers arrive at an Indonesian police human smuggling office in Kupang, Indonesia, November 26, 2015

Updated Nov 28, 2015

Indonesia voiced concern as 16 asylum seekers who were turned back by Australia came on its shore on Thursday evening.

Foreign Office Chief of Multilateral Affairs Hasan Kleib said that Indonesia is “concerned when some countries like Australia, rather than informing us or working with us, take unilateral action and push back boats."

Kleib added "Talk to us, call our law enforcement on what to do with this, rather than just shifting the burden, shifting the responsibility back to Indonesia," at a conference about irregular migration with attendants from 14 countries, including Australia.

Australia had turned back the 16 refugees -13 Indians, two Nepalese and one Bangladeshi- who arrived last Friday on its Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

Australian authorities also destroyed their boat and sent them back in another vessel.

The whereabouts of the vessel remained unknown until its discovery in Kupang, Indonesia, some 2,000 km (1,240 miles) east of Christmas Island, Sky News reported.

A fisherman, Daniel Lani said the boat was found in the sea with an empty fuel tank.

​"They [the refugees] were screaming for help, and we helped them to land," he told national news agency Antara.

Muhammad Anwar, the Bangladeshi asylum seeker said "We sailed to Christmas Island in Australia. When I got there, we were detained for four days, and the ships that we took from Jakarta were destroyed."

​Asylum seekers had sailed from Indonesia’s West Java on November 18 and reached Christmas Island on November 23.

"Indonesia's stance remains that boat push-backs are endangering," Arrmanatha Nasir, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told Fairfax Media.

Nasir said that they will try to address the issue with Australian officials during a conference in Jakarta.

The United Nations and rights groups have criticised Australia for its refugee policy.

Australia denies resettlement to all asylum seekers arriving by sea, even if they are found to be genuine refugees.

TRTWorld and agencies