CHINA TAKES A HAND
Things our media does NOT tell us.
The Lowy Institute has posted on its site one of the more worrying events of this whole Asylum Seeker situation.
“Last weekend, a Chinese taskforce of three warships steamed south through the Sunda Strait to conduct combat simulations and other exercises in the Indian Ocean, somewhere between Indonesia and Christmas Island.
The US ABC has added to the report, saying “A three-ship Chinese navy squadron has concluded exercises in the Indian Ocean and sailed on to the western Pacific, showing off the growing reach of the country’s seagoing forces at a time of sharpening territorial disputes in regional waters.“
While the fleet has now sailed into the Western Pacific, it leaves behind a strong “WE ARE WATCHING YOU” message to both Indonesia and Australia.
HOW MANY BOATS?
This has been the subject major discussions and disagreements over the past few days. With videos of a vessel being towed, reports of vessels off Christmas Island and Lifeboat(s) being found on Indonesian beaches there is a lot of confusion. Each media outlet shouts that it has found something new, even if the source is old.
This is the case of the lifeboat returned to Sukabumi with 40 adult males from the Middle East. The Indonesian sources reported this on 6th Feb this as having happened on Jan 16th.
Then there were the TWO asylum seeker boats reported from Christmas Island and one washing up at Pangandaran with 31 people on board. That number may be 34 and excludes the two people transferred to hospital on Christmas Island. These two appear to be those who were reported on Medaka.com to have died due to trampling by Australian Naval personnel.By removing them from their fellows, rumours and Chinese Whispers have taken over.
There were two boats involved in the Christmas Island sightings and one is still unaccounted for. Another unconfirmed report has an extra vessel being intercepted on Feb 3. I await further developments on this.
Michael Bachelard,Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax Media, has an excellent summary of the reported arrivals of returned refugees here. He reports six vessels while I have included the recently reported vessel at Sukabumi from the 16th Jan.
This landing has been mentioned again in this morning’s Jakarta Post “The Australian authorities are suspected of having turned back at least 34 Middle Eastern undocumented migrants to waters off West Java, after an orange lifeboat carrying the migrants was found on Pangandaran Beach on Wednesday evening. “This is our second such finding. Some two weeks ago a lifeboat of the same type was also found on Palabuhanratu Beach, Sukabumi,” West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan explained in Bandung on Thursday. In Jakarta, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Thursday that Australia’s turn-back-the-boats policy was unhelpful amid ongoing efforts to restore damaged relations between the two countries following Australia’s reported spying on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle.
I have updates the list at the bottom of this post to include the landing on the 16th and a possible interception on the 3rd Feb.
To me, that makes THREE lifeboat landings. And seven “tow-backs.
Banish Australian diplomats from Indonesia
The Antara Newsagency today has the above headline.
The article begins, “The Indonesian government should protest against the Australian government by expelling their diplomats related to the immigration affairs office at the Australian Embassy, urged Analyst of international relations from the University of Indonesia Hikmahanto Juwana. “If it is proven that the Australian naval pushed back the asylum seekers to the waters of Indonesia, then the government should strongly protest by declaring the Australian diplomats as persona non grata,” Hikmahanto Juwana noted in Jakarta, on Friday.“
DISTURBING PHOTOS OF TAMIL REFUGEES
Christmas Island;The monsoon trough lies close to Christmas island. Forecast for the rest of Saturday 8 February A few showers and thunderstorms. Winds: Westerly around 10 knots. Seas: Around 1.0 metre. Swell: Southwesterly 1.5 to 2.0 metres. Max 30 (BOM)
Cocos Island; The monsoon trough lies just to the north of the Cocos Islands. Forecast for the rest of Saturday 8 February A shower or two developing in the evening. Winds: South to southeasterly 10 to 15 knots. Seas: 1.0 to 1.5 metres. Swell: Southerly 2.0 to 2.5 metres. Max 31 (BOM)
Cirabon; 29C, wind; 10-15 Kmh S-SE, showers est 19mm
The weekly figures I have collated.
This will be updated each week.