When someone shares with you something of value, you have an obligation to share it with others.
Asian Migrants Say Australia Paid Smugglers to Turn BackNick Cumming-Bruce and Joe Cochrane12 June 2015GENEVA — Asian migrants on a boat that was intercepted by the Australian authorities three weeks ago have told refugee workers that the Australians paid the smugglers to take them to Indonesia, a United Nations official said on Friday.The 65 migrants — including 54 from Sri Lanka, 10 from Bangladesh and one from Myanmar — gave their accounts to employees of the United Nations refugee agency in Indonesia, where they were brought ashore and placed in detention, said Baloch Babar, a spokesman for the agency in Geneva.“They are telling us that they were intercepted by Australian officials at sea,” Mr. Babar said in a telephone interview. “They were taken on board an Australian customs boat for four days. They were then put on two blue boats and the crews were paid to take them back to Indonesia.”The migrants’ account has stoked debate over the hard-line policy on illegal immigrants that helped Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia win office in 2013 but exposed the nation to pointed criticism from United Nations agencies.Mr. Abbott did little to change the tide on Friday, pointedly refusing to deny the reports and suggesting, cryptically, that they were true.“We will do whatever is reasonably necessary to protect our country from people smuggling and from the effects of this evil and damaging trade that costs lives,” Mr. Abbott said during a radio interview, skirting questions as to whether his government had actually paid the smugglers.Saying that the government would stop boats “by hook or crook,” he added, “I just don’t want to go into the details of how it’s done because like a lot of things that law enforcement agencies have to do, it’s necessary, it’s difficult and at times I suppose it’s dangerous work. But we deal with it.”If true, the migrants’ claim could be politically damaging to Mr. Abbott and could further erode relations between Australia and Indonesia, which have clashed on many issues, including how to combat human trafficking. Agus Barnas, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, told The Associated Press that Mr. Abbott’s comments could be interpreted as endorsing bribery and would give smugglers an incentive to make the trip. “His statement is very unethical,” Mr. Barnas said.News reports in Indonesia recently quoted police officials in East Nusa Tenggara Province, in the remote eastern half of the nation, as saying that a captain and five crew members whose boat was intercepted by the Australian Navy on May 20 claimed to have each received $5,000 from Australian officials to reverse course. The migrants had reportedly been headed for New Zealand to seek asylum.The allegations have arisen amid a humanitarian crisis in which Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and international aid organizations have been trying to manage the exodus of thousands of desperate, ill-treated migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh on rickety, overcrowded boats.
Post a Comment