Migrants say Australia sent them back

2014-02-25 18:17
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Jakarta - Two dozen asylum seekers stranded in Indonesia say Australian authorities exploded the lifeboat that carried them to Christmas Island then sent them back in a lifeboat, Indonesian officials said on Tuesday.

The Indonesia Search and Rescue Agency evacuated 26 migrants after the local navy found the lifeboat stranded on Monday near Agropeni beach in Kebumen district of Central Java.

The migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Iran are being held at the local immigration office in the nearby district of Cilacap, said Imam Prawira, the office's head of investigation and enforcement, said.

Kebumen police Captain Warsidi said two of three Indonesian crewmen were being questioned while another escaped. The crewmen claimed to have received just 10 million rupiah ($860) out of 30 million ($2 585) promised by the migrants once they arrived in Australia, Warsidi said.

According to Kebumen police, the migrants left for the Australian territory of Christmas Island from West Java last Wednesday. Three days later they arrived around the border but were intercepted by an Australian warship which exploded their wooden boat.

Australia bought unsinkable lifeboats as part of its policy to deter such boat journeys, but it has refused to confirm the boats' use in sending asylum seekers back to Indonesia.

The orange lifeboat was equipped with television, navigation equipment, batteries and foods, police said.

It was the second lifeboat with turned-back asylum seekers stranded in Java's southern coast this month.

Indonesia's vast chain of islands is a popular transit point for people fleeing war-torn countries to reach Australia.

But Australia's new government has instituted new policies and refuses to resettle even genuine refugees who arrive by boat, instead sending them to Papua New Guinea or Nauru in the South Pacific.

- AP
Read more on:    indonesia  |  australia
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