The background:
438 Afghan refugees have been rescued from their sinking wooden boat in the Indian Ocean by a Norwegian freighter. They were trying to get to Australia, but were rescued in waters which lie within Indonesia’s “rescue zone”. The Australian government is currently refusing to let the Norwegian ship approach the Australian territory of Christmas Island (but will provide emergency supplies to the ship), Indonesia is unwilling to take the refugees, and Norway isn’t interested. Some of the refugees are ill, and others are threatening to jump off the ship if they are not accepted by Australia.
I can’t make up my mind about this, but which country do you guys think should take them?

  1. Australia
  2. Indonesia
  3. Norway

What you forgot to mention is that the reason the Norwegian vessel changed course and headed back into Australian waters is at least in part because the captain and crew were intimidated. The Captain has said that the refugee spokesmen were acting in a threatening manner, and just now on the news the mate has said that contingency plans have been made to lock the crew inside a safe area of ship if the ship is hijacked.

For my two cents the answer seems clear: Indonesia must be forced to accept them. If Australia accepts the refugees then it will either be because:

A) We are giving in to extortion and piracy on the part of the terrorists. I can’t see it ever being a good thing to give in to terrorist actions, even if those commiting the actions are acting out of fear for their lives.

B)We are content to allow our nearest neighbour to ignore its responsibilities to sailors in distress and shoulder the responsibility they shirked. Indonesia has only today confirmed that it is prepared to accept these immigrants if Australia turns them away, but conflicting messages are still coming from some senior figures. While I agree in principle that Australia should rescue seafarers if their lives are at risk this is not the case here. The illegal immigrants are in no immediate risk. While it is true the Norwegian vessel is not equipped for so large a complement (insufficient lifeboats etc.) I understand the RAN has agreed to escort the vessel either all the way back to an Indonesian port or until such time as an Indonesian vessel can take over escort duty. No lives are at risk here. I can’t see any reason why Australia should be prepared to accept the economic, medical and social burden that Indonesia refuses.

To put this in context for the American readers, this is analogous to Chinese refugees picked up in Japanese waters threatening the ships crew and forcing the vessel to set sail for the US. Would The USA accept such refugees, or even allow the vessel into US waters?

(Incidentally I’m buggered if I can see how this is Norway’s problem. The freighter picked up sailors from a sinking ship expecting to be able to turn them in to the nearest port. Instead they essentially get hijacked by the people they rescued. Norway deserves only praise for it’s people’s actions)

Gaspode, I didn’t mention the reason for the Norwegian vessel’s having changed course because I didn’t mention the course change at all. Maybe I should have, but I wanted to keep things simple. Anyway, having just seen the evening news as well, I’m inclined to agree with you with regards to Indonesia’s ultimate responsibility (by the way, so do most of the respondents to a Sydney Morning Herald online poll). I think now, I’d like to see them taken to Christmas Island for whatever emergency treatment needs to be done, and then transferred to an Indonesian port. Of course, this is an ideal situation, and counts on Australia’s position not being prejudiced by having allowed the refugees onto Australian soil in the first place -once they are here, our bargaining position with the Indonesian Government will quite possibly be a whole lot weaker. The Norwegian vessel is in distress, as you have said, and this was why media reports were that Australia is breaking international maritime law by not allowing it to berth at the nearest port (in this case Christmas Is).

I can appreciate trying to keep it simple, but the fact that this is a borderline case of piracy is a pretty important element of the story IMHO.

If the freighter had been headed for Australian waters anyway the responsibilty for the illegals would be less clear cut. Under those circumstances I would tend to suggest that since the freighter’s captain did the right thing by performing the rescue and saving Australia millions in the process, the least we could do would be to allow him to get the job over with as fast as possible and with minimal expense, i.e. let him head for the nearest habitation on his plotted course to discharge the ‘refugees’. Australia would have a moral if not legal obligation no matter whose ‘rescue zone’ the pickup occured in.

Had the captain changed course volountarily and sailed back into Australian waters then he would be breaking international law and Norway would have to accept at least some responsibility.

As it is the responsibility can be clearly laid at the feet of the terrorists involved and the Indonesian government.

I agree wholeheartedly that if anyone is suffering from genuine life threatening illnesses and won’t live to see Indonesia then this should be determined by military doctors (with armed escorts) on board the freighter. If the situtation is confirmed then the patient should of course be transferred to Christamas Island, or Darwin or Brisbane or wherever the hell they can be treated. That’s only basic decency. Of course this would only apply to those who are seriously ill, and I suspect they would number less than half a dozen. Such a small number, considering the hundreds of illegals arriving each month these days, is a drop in the ocean and seems hardly worth considering. I really can’t see it weakening our bargaining position and refusal to do this just paints Australia as being immoral and heartless. Any of the less seriously ill people could quite easily be treated by military personell on board the freighter.

Regarding the breaking of maritime law I notice all the major news services have been quoting the same maritime lawer, but SBS reports a conflicting opinion that suggests that if the vessel is the victim of piracy or similar the law may not apply. Added to this the stance of the Australian officials is that ferrying the illegals from the vessel to shore poses a far greater risk to human life than
an escorted journey back to Indonesia where the vessel can dock in a deepwater port and the passengers disembark safely.

I share your concern on this one TLD, but I think Gaspode’s correct in that the answer is 2.

As I understand it the stricken vessel and its crew were Indonesian as, presumably, are the people smugglers who organised the refugees passage. The vessel would seem to have put to sea from an Indonesian port and not cleared their waters when it foundered.

Hence it’s a case of Indonesia being unwilling to take ** back**the refugees.

My sympathies go to the Captain and crew who are in an invidious position.

What I’d like to know is how these people sailed to Indonesia from frigging AFGHANISTAN. Now that is a work of nautical genius!


It is worth noting that the “through Indonesia” route has become more popular since the fall of Suharto and Australia’s role in East Timor and the reformasi movements. I’d guess that a lot more people turning up on Ashmore Reef and Christmas Island is defacto Indonesian military policy (or more charitably a result of the continuing political flux in Indonesia). I’d also guess that the government’s response has a lot to do with the troubles of Queensland branch of the Liberal Party. Whilst the “samaritan’s dilemma” (the risk that if you are nice people will exploit you) is a problem it needs to be solved with coherent policy, not this reactive foolishness. This kind of policy-on-the-run will end in tears. It will further damage relations with the Indonesians and some of the refugees will die.

Having slept on this, I’m sure now that:
a) The refugees should not be accepted under asylum in Australia, and should ultimately be taken to Indonesia.
b) The vessel should have been allowed to dock at Christmas Island on humanitarian grounds (this definition especially including the poor bloody Norwegian captain and his crew).

The piracy issue is a valid point -storming the bridge of a ship which has saved your skin is not A Good Thing[sup]TM[/sup], but as five people did this, and 433 did not, I don’t believe it’s reason enough to turn the ship away. As a hypothetical, if the Norwegian vessel were to start sinking for some reason, would the refugees say to the 27 crew, “I say old chaps, first crack at the lifeboats for you boys, eh what?” I think not. A very interesting international situation indeed. I checked out two Norwegian online newspapers last night -boy, are they ticked off at us (and Indonesia).

I agree with picmr on the samaritan’s dilemma. This needs to be solved with a firm hand, but also with decency, not fear of political reprisals from the talk-back radio crowd.

I’m not entirely convnced this is being done solely for political point scoring. If Australia begins taking in terrorists who hijack ships then it really does set a dangerous precedent. Similarly if we start shouldering Indonesia’s international responsibilities it doesn’t do Australia’s position much good.

Asuuming that the freighter has an escort of an Australian frigate with full medical crew and two Blackhawks I really can’t see that the issue of not having sufficient lifeboats on the freighter is an issue. The journey would be safer for the crew than if they were to make it unescorted with the normal crew complement.

As for the fact that only a limited number of people threatened the ships crew, that’s an odd way of looking at it. I’m sure only a few of the passengers in an airliner hijacking storm the cockpit as well. That doesn’t detract from the fact that responsible governemnts don’t negotiate with terrorists. These terrorists have commited a criminal act with the intention of getting the remaining illegal immigrants on to Australian soil. I can’t see any difference between this and hijacking the ship so the illegals get flown to Cuban soil. I can’t support the notion of the Australian governement giving in to terrorists. If these people are genuine refugees then they won’t be in any more danger in Indonesia than they are in Australia.

The problem here has arisen because the debate has become polarised into two ideas:

  1. The “refugees” are nothing more than opportunistic criminals who have attempted to play on Australia’s goodwill, and have employed intimidation against the captain of his own vessel on the high seas to a point bordering on piracy, and the alleged casualties amongst the group of refugees are merely feigning their illnesses and injuries in pursuit of their own ends.
  2. These are genuine refugees, including women, children, and the sick, who are being coldly turned away by a ruthless Australian Government more concerned with the upcoming election than with the possibility that people may die.

It would be very surprising to me if the truth weren’t somewhere in the middle.

Gaspode, as for my isolating from the other refugees the five who stormed the bridge being an “odd way of looking at it”, surely the intimidation can’t have been an organised effort, the prior knowledge of which was available to all who were rescued? Firstly, the rescue by the Norwegian vessel was unplanned (I’d be hard pressed to believe the refugees deliberately scuttled their own craft in the hope a MAYDAY would be responded to in time), and secondly it is likely that most of these people only met for the first time the day they sailed. I’d wager it was a spur of the moment decision taken by several men after they had boarded the Norwegian ship. Refugees are desperate people. Please don’t take this to mean I am defending their actions.

The intimidation of the Norwegian captain was wrong and criminal, and it is surprising there has been no talk of these people facing eventual justice under law when they are eventually settled somewhere. I just feel that immediate and summary punishment of the entire 438 is wrong.

I’m not suggesting that the act was organised (though there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been either). I’m simply stating that the issue is that a group of people are undertaking a terrorist action. Terrorists have been known to hijack airliners to free comrades in prison who also probably knew nothing of what was going to occur. That doesn’t mean we give in and let their comrades onto Australian soil. The comrades in prison are not being punished for thier fellows’ actions, they are simnplly not being rewarded for it. The same applies here. Negotiation with terrorists is a bad move IMHO.

The other 438 individuals are not being punished. Indonesia is AFAIK a nation in good standing with the UN and there is no reason to assume that being sent to Indonesia is a punishment. I see this as being not about punishing the innocent, rather about not rewarding the guilty.

I’ve been following this thread since TheLoadedDog started it, and man, this fence is getting uncomfortable.

On the one hand, I can understand why people don’t want this ship and its passengers in Australian waters, and why they think they should go back to Indonesia. I can understand Gaspode saying

The one word I dispute there is “terrorists”, and I’ll get into why I dispute it shortly.

I can also see that sending them back to Indonesia is a more-than-reasonable conclusion to come to. The sinking ship was Indonesian, in Indonesian waters, so it’s their responsibility.

But, on the other hand, I’ve been trying to put myself in the position of those people on the ship.

As numerous threads on this board have displayed, Afghanistan is not a pleasant place to live right now. The Taliban is not a fun bunch of people. These people could be genuine refugees fleeing an oppressive regime (no assessment of their status as genuine refugees versus illegal immigrants has been made yet. Nobody’s had a chance) and, were I in that situation, I can see myself running like hell, and not worrying about the paperwork. Given circumstances desperate enough, I can even see myself, out of pure fear and desperation, picking up an iron bar or anything else that might stand as a weapon and trying to make the ship go where I want it to. I don’t condone the action in any way, but I can understand it.

This, btw, is why I disagree with Gaspode using the term “terrorist”. A terrorist plans their action; their aim is to cause terror, usually with political aims. Whether or not that was the goal in this case hasn’t yet been established.

I can also understand wanting to end up in Australia rather than Indonesia. Australia is much more stable, politically speaking, for one thing.

:dons nomex skivvies:

Ultimately I’m coming down on the side of Australia taking them, for the time being at least.

Firstly, I would rather err on the side of compassion. It may be that these people are entitled to consideration as genuine refugees. If not, then we have another few hundred people to be deported.

Secondly, if the Indonesian boat had made it to Christmas Island or Ashmore Reef, then we would have had to deal with them anyway. It was chance that the MV Tampa became involved at all.

Thirdly, it sets no kind of precedent. Illegal immigration via Indonesia and Australia’s northern coast has been going on for decades (I first heard reference to “Refugee Regatta” off Darwin in about 1983). As already stated, I disagree with the “terrorist” thing; that they offered the threat of violence is one thing, that they are terrorists has not been demonstrated. Per my first point, I opt to err on the side of caution.

Fourthly, it lets them land somewhere, get medical treatment (which is needed - last I heard, two of them were heavily pregnant, ten were unconscious) and allows the process of determining whether or not they are in fact refugees to begin. It also lets the MV Tampa and its crew get on with their lives (just to add, the Tampa’s crew and captain deserve cheers for their actions. They did the right thing, and it’s not good that it’s turned into such a can o’ worms on them).

Newest worm in the can: the crew recently turned the ship into Australian waters, off Christmas Island. The SAS has landed on the ship. The Norwegian government has just announced that, should the SAS take control of the ship and steer it back to international waters, Australia may find itself charged with piracy.

Still more breaking news.

The Captain claimed that ten passengers were unconscious and unable to be respond to any stimulus and those were his grounds for illegally entering Australian waters against direct instructions from Australian officials. An Australian military doctor has since examined all people on board and declared that Not One Person is in need of urgent medical aid. Any person who is unconcious and not responding would be considered in urgent need of medical aid, so we can probably discount that story.
And tavalla I realise you may be using another dictionary, but all mine agree with Merriam-Webster in that terrorism is “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion” and that terrorist is the noun form. So while you’re entitled to use whatever definition you wish I will continue to use mine in the knowledge it is correct. Added to this to suggest that someone can threaten a group of seamen over a period of several days and yet not be doing so with malice of forethought seems exceedingly far fetched to me.

I don’t dispute for one second that thes people are refugees. At the moment however their status is that of illegal immigrant. Any refugee status is to be determined later. I can also understand how fear could prompt their violent and threatening actions, but that doesn’t mean that we should negotiate with terrorists. Motivations seem pretty irrelevant at this stage. Certainly allow it to be a mitigating factor at the trial, but as things stand I don’t support caving in to terrorism.

The argument that Australia is more politically stable also seems very flimsy to me. Of couse Australia is more politically stable, but Indonesia is a member of the world community in good standing. There is no reason whatsoever to suspect these people will be worse off in Indonesia than Australia in any sense except economically, and no nation is obliged to take economic refugees. These people landed at a port in a freindly nation and didn’t disembark. They obviously had only one destination in mind and on those grounds alone I have grounds to doubt that fear for their lives was the sole motivating force for their journey. Obviously their were other reasons why Australia was selected over Indonesia as the final destination.

Whether these people are genuine refugees or not is irrelevant to Australia’s accepting them. Whether they are genuine refugees or simply economic refugees they are Indonesia’s responsibility and I have no reason to believe that they will be treated any less compasionately in Indonesia than in Ausralia. The idea that they would have ultimately become Australia’s responsibility without interference also seems a trite argument. Indonesia has a very clear legal responsibilty in this case, one which it has refused to accept. When viewed under that light saying that it would have become Australia’s legal problem one day seems an awful lot like saying that I should be able to sue you because I got hit by a truck while driving to your house. My safety would have beeen your legal responsibility once I got to your property, so I may as well be your legal responsibility for the whole journey. That’s just silly and it’s the exact reason why these international legal rescue jurisdictions were set up in the first place.

Accepting these people will certainly set a social precedent if not a legal one. To the best of my knowledge Australia has never allowed anyone to enter its territories because of the threat of violence. This is exactly what has happened here and it sets a very nasty precedent to my way of thinking. Yes illegals have been entering Australia from Indonesian waters for the last hundred years, but they’ve never done it before by hijacking a vessel to carry them into Australian waters. In my opinion that is not something that should be encouraged under any circumstances.

Your comment about starting the process of determining refugee status goes right over my head. It’s not up to Australia to determine refugee status if they are to be settled in Indonesia. There is no reason to believe they can not be settled in Indonesia and the only reason for not doing so is, as I said in my original post, either because we are caving in to terrorist acts or because we are willing to shoulder Indonesia’s responsibilities under international law. I’m afraid I will never believe that doing either of those things will be a good thing for Australia.

In short Australia has neither a legal nor moral resposnibility to take these people. There is no eviddence that allowing these people onto Australian soil is necessary for their health or well-being, and if that should turn out be the case then by all means evacuate the ill. There is no reason to believe that these people will be mistreated if returned to Indonesia, or be worse off in any way except financially than if they were in Australia. Allowing these people to enter Australian territory sends the wrong message to both Indonesia and future potential terrorists. In the absence of any logical or compassionate reasons for allowing all illegals ashore I can only conclude we should return them to Indoneasia ASAP.

A few honest questions:

1.) Would these people’s lives be in danger if returned to Afghanistan?

2.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have any type of embargo against Afghanistan?

3.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have a policy of deporting illegal immigrants?

4.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have a policy of accepting “economic” refugees?

I need the answers in order to formulate an opinion on whether they should be accepted by Australia, Indonesia, or sent back to Afghanistan.

Who cares whose responsibility it is. Humanitarianism has no frontiers.
All this exposes is the hypocricy of all the governments involved. They don’t mind shipping in merchandise from anywhere else in the world, but people are a different matter.

The desperation of the people on board and the options open to them make it absolutely necessary to accept them, wherever they end up.

I understand troops entered the ship today but I don’t know what the result of that was.

For those on board death is a better option than the Taliban regime. Think about it and can people break free of the legalistic restraints and “terribly responsible” attitudes I have seen exposed here.

Refugees should be welcomed, wherever they come froma nd wherever they land. No one chooses to escape, they are obliged to do so in most cases.


I realize that this may be a stretch for you, Gaspode. But try to imagine that your relatives have been “disappeared” or killed, or that you have been arrested and tortured in prison, or that your home has been broken into by agents of the government and your belongings have been confiscated and you cannot find work because everyone is afraid to hire you. Imagine that it’s absolutely clear that if you stay in your native land, you or perhaps your wife or children or brothers and sisters and cousins will be treated like this again and again. Imagine, for instance, that the last time you were arrested, the local police tied you to a table, took off your shirt, and put out thirty or forty cigarettes on your chest. Imagine that if your wife steps into the street, the same police follow her, calling her a “whore” and describing what they will do to her when you are finally dead. Imagine your sister was raped to punish YOU for non-conforming beliefs. Imagine that you are DESPERATE to escape, and not just to a country that will promptly deport you back to the same people who have previously tortured you. Imagine that once you HAVE fled, the penalties if you are returned are sure to be worse than anything you have previously endured.

This is a TYPICAL story for person who become refugees. I urge you to look at any Amnesty International website to see what kinds of persecution are necessary to cause people to leave their homelands and travel to far away lands. Before you characterize an entire boatload of refugees as “terrorists” ask yourself: What would I do to save myself, my family, or my friends from certain persecution and probable death?

I’m afraid your post went right over my head Aunt Pam. I’m well aware of the conditions these illegals may have fled. I’m well aware of what I may be willing to do to save my family’s lives.

While your post is very emotive it overlooks the fact that from the time they entered the first Indonesian port their lives were no longer in danger. They could quite safely have aplied for refugee status in Indonesia. Instead they further risked their lives by taking to sea in an unseaworthy vessel. When they were picked up by the Norwegian vessel they could have returned to Indonesia in crelative safety. Instead some members forced the crew to head into Australian territory. While anchored outside Australian waters these people decided to threaten to jump overboard rather than return to Indonesia. To claim that the sole reason these people have acted in this way is out of fear for their lives is ridiculous. As I quite clearly stated above self-preservation and preservation of their loved ones is obviously not the sole factor governing these people’s actions.

Lets just get this much straight shall we. The crew of the Norwegian vessel were not threatening the illegals, their families, or friends with certain persecution and probable death. Nor were Indonesian officials. Therefore these people did not threaten the crew or leave Indonesian territory to save “themselves, their families, or their friends from certain persecution and probable death”, as wonderfully emotive as such an argument may be. Lets deal in facts here shall we?

Oh yes, and perhaps you would be good enough to provide a quot for exactly where I characterised “an entire boatload of refugees as “terrorists””. Or failing that withdraw the statement and perhaps apologise?

Barsa Loner,
If these people were indeed desparate then of course they should be accepted wherever they ended up. The fact is these people weren’t so desperate as to plead refugee status in Indonesia or any of the several other nations they called at on their voyage. They have specifically made a long and life threatening voyage to a first world nation. Where these people ended up was initially somewhere in India or northern Asia and finally in Indoneasia. They have made a decision to move to Australia that is not based on any fear that I can see. Does anyone have any evidence at all that these peolpe fled Inonesia in fear for their lives?

For those on board death is indeed a better option than the Taliban regime. It is abundantly clear that death is also considered better than life in Indonesia, India or Sri Lanka. Lets get this straight shall we. These people left the democracy of Indonesia to move to Australia. I’m afraid that I’m having trouble seeing them as anything other then economic refugees even if they were political refugees from their home country.

I suggest you do a little research before you make comments like this. Most of the ‘refugees’ that wind up on Australian soil, particularly form the middle east, are in fact economic refugees who did choose to escape, often paying phenomenal sums of money to do so. These people are no more refugees than the Mexican illegals who attempt to cross the US border and are turned back.

*1.) Would these people’s lives be in danger if returned to Afghanistan? *
Can’t know. This wouldn’t be the first time that ‘refugees’ have claimned to be from an oppresive regime and then been discovered to be from somehwre else entirely. Even if they are genuinely Afghanistani we can’t know until they are processed by governemnt officials. The majority of such asylum seekers in recent times have been deported because they have no grounds for refugee status.

*2.)Do Australia and/or Indonesia have any type of embargo against Afghanistan? *
Not to the best of my knowledge.

*3.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have a policy of deporting illegal immigrants? * Australia definitely does.

*4.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have a policy of accepting “economic” refugees? *
Australia will occasionlly accept economic refugees but official policy is to ‘repatriate’ refugees if they don’t meet UN refugee status requirements. Given that our dentention centres are filled to overflowing and immigrants are arriving faster than new centres can be established at the moment I suspect any economic refugee wouldn’t have much chance.

More interestingly how come every country now says ’ go away ’ to refugees when they used to have an ‘open arms’ policy… then again… i suppose that was immigration, these people ( in theory but we know they won’t ) will go home when things are better in their own country.

Questions asked by Beeblebrox:

1.) Would these people’s lives be in danger if returned to Afghanistan?

Unknown. No attempt at assessment has yet been made.

2.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have any type of embargo against Afghanistan?

Australia, no. According to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures here, Australia exports around $130,000 worth of products to Afghanistan, importing about $54,000 worth of products.

Australia does not currently have an embassy or mission in Afghanistan, and relations between the two countries are somewhat snippy at the moment. Two of those foreign nationals being held by the Taliban on charges of preaching Christianity are Australian.

3.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have a policy of deporting illegal immigrants?

I will (somewhat) contradict Gaspode here. For Australia, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website says here that Australia is committed to “returning those who arrive without authorisation and are not granted refugee status” (italics mine to make it clear that unauthorised arrivals are not merely shown the door: each case is individually assessed before a decision on deportation is made, even if the person arrived in Australia illegally or with fraudulent papers). See also the link under question 4.

However, those found not to fall under refugee status on humanitarian grounds are deported.

4.) Do Australia and/or Indonesia have a policy of accepting “economic” refugees?

DIMA’s website makes no mention of economic refugees, talking only about humanitarian grounds. Take a look here for more information.

However, as in answer to your first question, no determination has yet been made on whether these people are refugees on economic or humanitarian grounds.

Gaspode, you said

I do not put these people in the same class as Abu Nidal, HAMAS, Shining Path, Real IRA, Eta, Harakat ul-Mujahidin or any other similar group. Yours and M-W’s definition could be read to include someone who robs a couple of banks. They’re using terror systematically as a form of coercion, right? Hell, so does a carjacker.

The UNHCR here states that “Indonesia’s detention practices in relation to bona fide asylum seekers and refugees remain a concern. Conditions in detention centres are poor.” (The corresponding page for Australia which you’ll find here raises no such concerns.) In addition, three UNHCR workers in Indonesia have been killed, more have been injured and, while Megawati might come to be an improvement over previous governments, the situation there is still a loooong way from good. In addition, Indonesia is signatory to neither the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, nor the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967.

Please remember, I said

Those words at the end of that sentence are important. It’s expediency as much as anything: if we let the unauthorised arrivals land on Christmas Island, the crew of the Tampa can go about their lives. We’ve then got a little more time to determine where to send the “unauthorised arrivals”, when Indonesia, Australia and the UN (since PM Howard has finally decided to ask Kofi Annan for a clue) come to an agreement on where they belong. This way, nobody’s stuck on the ship and all parties get a little breathing room to come to a fair decision. We can always fly them back to Indonesia if that’s the decision we come to, neh?

One final note: yes, those who actually used or threatened violence should stand trial in the relevant jurisdiction (Indonesia, I guess). But if that was only half a dozen, and if there was no collusion between those half-dozen and the other 450-some people on board, then we have two groups to deal with. Those who had no part in it should not be subject to the same conditions, and should not be judged as either hijackers or violent, but considered as potential refugees.

Well tavalla I have to say thank you for a well written and informative post. Having seen that these people’s lives and health would be at risk if they landed in Indonesia then I’m going to do a complete about face.

Australia should accept these people.

It’s fairly obvious that Indonesia is both unwilling and unable to live up to its responsibilities as a good global citizen at the moment, so the responsibility falls on those nations who are prepared to do so. The issue of setting a bad example obviously isn’t valid since Indonesia doesn’t appear to give a rats about its resposibilities. I’m still extremely leery of giving in to the demands of terrorists but if the illegals made a try for Australia for genuine reasons, and since they will be at risk if they are returned to Indonesia, they can’t be punished for the actions of the few. It would be different matter if they had decided to make the run for Australia for purely economic reasons and they were not at risk if sent back to Indonesia.

Congratulations tavalla, consider some ignorance to have been defeated.

We might win this battle yet. :slight_smile: