Press Release: February 2, 2010
For reference: Eni Lestari, Chairperson
Contact # +1 (852) 9608-1475
The International Migrants Alliance condemns the unjust detention of three refugee advocates by the Indonesian authorities last January 26, 2009.
Jessica Chandrashekar of the Canada-based Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils, Pamela Curr of the Melbourne-based Asylum Seeker Resource Center and Australian Tamil Congress member Sara Nathan were on their way to provide humanitarian aid to the more than 240 Tamil asylum seekers stuck in a boat in Merak, Indonesia when they were arrested by the Indonesian authorities.
They were detained, questioned and released by the authorities the following day but was arrested and detained right after. On January 30, news reports stated that the two Australian advocates have been released and deported.
“The detention of the three refugee advocates is not only illegal but a gross violation of their rights and freedoms,” said Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson. “As the Indonesian government continues to ignore the plight of the Tamil refugees in Merak, they had the audacity to capture and detain Jessica, Pamela and Sara who only wanted to help.”
In October 2009, the Indonesian navy intercepted the Australia-bound boat in Merak upon the request of the Australian government. The refugees refused to come ashore fearing they will wait years for resettlement.
The IMA holds both the Indonesian and Australian governments accountable for the plight of the said Tamil asylum seekers. “It is quite ironic that, as international conventions are being signed and ratified to protect migrants and refugees, it is governments like Indonesia and Australia that break the rules and violate their rights. Now, they are extending it to advocates and refugees.”
The IMA calls on an immediate investigation on the said arrest and detention of the refugee advocates as well as challenges international institutions such as the ASEAN in addressing the plight of the Tamil refugees in Merak.