Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras. The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they face on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness, and disinformation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

'They won't get off this ship. They want Australia to help'

Michael Bachelard
April 10, 2012 - 10:27AM
The asylum seekers are refusing to disembark. Photo: Reuters

The 120 Afghani men and boys refusing to get off the ship that rescued them off the coast of Indonesia have pleaded with Australian authorities to help them.

In an interview by phone with this website, one of the refugees, Liaqat Ali Amini, said the people, all ethnic Hazaras, were frightened of the Indonesian police and of being put in “prison”.

“People are afraid of Indonesian police, they take away our money and mobile phones, and put behind bars, and we have no contact with our family,” Mr Amini said.

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“We don't want to get off. People say we want to get to Australia, we were in international waters when we suffered a lot from this sinking boat.

“Our destination is not Indonesia. We came to Australia. People are on this ship, and they won't get off this ship and they want Australia to help.”

Mr Amini said four of the asylum seekers were just 12 years old and 25 were aged under 18.

Mr Amini said the group had boarded the boat late on Saturday and headed for Christmas Island. But not all the engines worked and, “They were broken very soon”.

Indonesian authorities have confirmed that they had received a distress call from the boat which was sinking in the Sunda Strait south of Java at about 5.30am on Sunday. They called in the nearest ship, the Hermia, a Singapore-flagged oil tanker.

Mr Amini said they had made it to international waters, but that, as they foundered, the wind had blown them back into Indonesian waters.

Now, however, they are in dock in the port of Merak, western Java.

Mr Amini asked for help to speak to the immigration department in Australia.

“I feel in Australia I will get blessed and I see many people from my tribe are trying to get to Australia and they are getting to Australia and seeking asylum,” Mr Amini said.

He said he came from Ghazni in the mountains of Afghanistan, and that his life had been threatened by insurgents.

He had been hoping for many years to come to Australia, but had only recently raised the $US20,000 fee to pay the people smuggler, whom he identified as Haji.

They had come by plane to Bangkok, then by road and boat to Malaysia and then Indonesia. They waited for a boat for about two months in Bogor, just outside Jakarta.

Mr Amini said he had heard in Indonesia about Australia's change in detention policy, in which asylum seekers were now being kept in the community.

However, his desire to come to Australia had long predated the policy change.

National Times

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