53 Asylum Seekers On Viking

53 asylum seekers on Viking

By Yuko Narushima
The Sydney Morning Herald, December 4, 2009

The Oceanic Viking has picked up another boatload of asylum seekers, a fortnight after it unloaded 78 reluctant Sri Lankans in Indonesia.

Yesterday the customs vessel at the centre of a month-long stand-off with Indonesia intercepted another 53 asylum seekers and four crew north of West Islet, Ashmore Islands.

The Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, said the people would be transferred to Christmas Island for security, identity and health checks.

But facilities on the island were overcrowded and dangerous, the Opposition said.

''The safety of asylum seekers and staff must be assured,'' the its immigration spokeswoman, Sharman Stone, said. ''The Rudd Government must ensure the investigations into the detention centre riot two weeks ago are completed as soon as possible.''

Yesterday refugee advocates called for guaranteed safety for asylum seekers on a boat moored at Merak, in Java.

That boat, carrying 250 asylum seekers, was prevented reaching Australia after the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, rang the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

'They must be promised re-settlement in Australia,' the Refugee Action Coalition said.


Sri Lankan asylum seekers caught in 'routine' Indonesian naval exercise
By Stephen Fitzpatrick
The Australian, December 3, 2009