OCEANIC VIKING TAMILS ADMIT THEY DID NOT COME FROM SRI LANKA BUT LIVING IN INDONESIA FOR YEARS AND HIRED A PEOPLE SMUGGLER
Posted on November 1st, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

Many Sri Lankan Tamils who were living in the Oceanic Viking ship have now admitted to living in Indonesia for years and not coming directly from Sri Lanka when they were picked up by the ship.

“It’s been revealed that most of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers in a standoff with Australian authorities off Indonesia’s Bintan Island have admitted living in Indonesia for years, providing the Rudd government with leverage to convince Indonesia to take them back”, the Fairfax newspapers reported.

The reports said, In written messages thrown off the Oceanic Viking, the Australian customs ship that has been home to the 78 ethnic Tamils for the past two weeks, the asylum seekers said they had been living in Indonesia for as long as five years and had been accepted by the United Nations office in Jakarta as genuine refugees.

The reports said, “They said they engaged a people smuggler because of their frustrations that no country would accept them, leaving them to sit in limbo in rented accommodation in Indonesia, unable to work or study.

“The message insisted the Sri Lankans had arrived in Indonesia ‘normally’.

“Part of the Indonesian justification for not taking the Sri Lankans is that they are refusing to be registered by their immigration officials. But it appears that they already have been. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees doesn’t process asylum seekers unless they have been registered first, Fairfax says.

“Saturday’s development came as the federal government announced a doubling of the capacity of the Christmas Island immigration detention centre as it braces for more boat”

The Sri Lankan admission that they were living in Indonesia for years, provided the Rudd Government with leverage to convince Indonesia to take them back, Australia’s Age newspaper said.

The development is seen by Australian officials as a possible circuit-breaker to the stand-off, which has caused much political and diplomatic anguish.

Indonesia’s senior official in charge of the matter, Sujatmiko, said he was unaware of the history of the asylum seekers but asked that all information be passed to him as a matter of urgency.

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