Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Zely Ariane national speaking tour March - April 2010

Zely Ariane will be making a national speaking tour of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra Brisbane and Perth organised by Direct Action and supported by Indonesia Australia Solidarity from MArch 23 to May 3rd.

Zely Ariane is National Spokesperson for the Committee of the Politics of the Poor – Peoples Democratic Party (KRPM-PRD), a pro-socialist political party formation in Indonesia continuing the radical tradition of democratic activism pioneered by the PRD during the 1990s. She has been active fore more than ten years as an active writer, commentator, and as organizer in the labour and women’s movement.

The KPRM-PRD has been on the Indonesian Left groups consistently part of united left protest mobilizations, especially those occurring on May Days, against the imposition of austerity measures against ordinary people, and against clampdowns on wages for Indonesia’s impoverished workers. Most recently, the KPRM-PRD was active in a range of coalitions formed in different cities around Indonesia to protest the austerity policies of the current government of Indonesia under President Yudhoyono on the anniversary of the 100th day of his second term.

Zely is also Vice Secretary and head of the Women’s Department Workers Struggle Solidarity Union (GSPB) based in Jakarta as well as a member of the national leadership council of the Women’s Liberation National Network (JNPM).

Zely is also active in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, and has visited Venezuela twice.

The Struggle For Social Justice in Indonesia

Speakers from Indonesia’s front line

Melbourne University Monday 29 March, 6:30pm
Alice Hoy Building, Room 225

ZELY ARIANE: national spokesperson of Political Committee of the Poor – People’s Democratic Party (Komite Politik Rakyat Miskin – Partai Rakyat Demokratik, KPRM-PRD) and active in the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (Gabungan Solidaritas Perjuangan Buruh - GSPB). See

IGNATIUS MAHENDRA KUSUMAWARDHANA: International department of the Working Peoples Association ( Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja – PRP). He has recently been active in the movement to free the refugees incarcerated on their boat off the Indonesian port of Merak. See

Organised by Indonesia Australia Solidarity (IAS)

IAS is a new Melbourne based group formed in 2009 to raise awareness about the mass based, democratic movements in Indonesia that are fighting for social and environmental justice - the rights of the majority of Indonesia’s people. Contact Sam 04235273285

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Australian Refugee Supporters in Merak Detained for Questioning a Second Time

The three refugee activists detained by Indonesian police on Tuesday afternoon, in the vicinity of the boat at Merak, have been detained for questioning for second time by Indonesian immigration authorities.


The two Australian citizens are Sara Nathan, Tamil community activist from Sydney and Pamela Curr from the Asylum seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. The Canadian citizen, Jessica Chandrashekar is from the humanitarian organisation, Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils (Canadian HART).


The three were detained by the Merak Marine police on Tuesday and questioned for almost 11 hours before being released, without their passports, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.


There have intense discussions, through the day (Wednesday) involving consular staff of the Australian and Canadian embassies over the return of the passports.


Indonesian authorities demanded that the passports be collected in person from Merak.  But on their arrival in Merak to collect their passports, the three were again detained and held for questioning.


They have now been released, but their passports will not be returned until the director of immigration considers their case and their responses to the questioning. It is believed the immigration authorities are considering whether the three are guilty of visa violations.


Refugee groups again expressed their concerns at the detention of the three activists. "There is no basis for their detention or questioning," said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.


"Indonesian government authorities at the highest levels were aware of their visit. On previous occasions there was specific advice from the Indonesian embassy in Canberra regarding the appropriate visa to use to visit Indonesia.


"The Australian government must intervene to demand the return of the passports and put an end to the bureaucratic farce. It seems they have become caught up in the wrangling between the Indonesian and Australian governments over the Merak boat. We understand that Australia's special envoy, Peter Woolcott, is presently in Jakarta for talks with the Indonesian government," said Ian Rintoul.


"The ultimate responsibility for the Merak boat, and the predicament of the three activists lies with the Australian government, not with the Indonesian government. The plight of the Merak asylum seekers has attracted international concern that Kevin Rudd's Indonesian solution breaches Australia's obligations under the Refugee Convention.


"We welcome the statements from Australian government Ministers that Australian will play a role resettling people from the Merak boat found to be refugees. We are hopeful that there will be a proposal for the resolution of the situation at Merak in the very near future."



For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Three refugee activists detained in Merak

Two Australian and a Canadian Citizen who visited the Tamil Sri Lankan refugees have been detained and taken into Indonesian police custody today. 

They were arrested in a street on the way to visit the Tamil asylum seekers who are currently still in Jaya Lestari, the boat that they used to take them to Australia.  The boat was seized by the Indonesian navy and moored in Merak, Western Java, Indonesia, since Oct 2009.  The boat was seized after Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister phoned Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian President and personally requested the Indonesian government to intercept it.

The two Australian citizens are Pamela Curr of the Asylum seeker Resource Centre and Sara Nathan, refugee activist from Sydney.  The Canadian citizen is from the Humanitarian Appeal for the Relief of Tamils (CanadianHART).  They were taken into custody by the Indonesian police officers to Merak Marine Police Station soon after arriving in Merak.

We failed to reach the Indonesian police officer who detained the activists.

"Their arrest is intolerable; they went there to help the asylum seekers who fled from prosecution in Sri Lanka.  Kevin Rudd's government must stop using other country's security apparatus to arrest human rights activists and free the refugees" said Madhuni Kumarrakulasinghe, a refugee activist from Australia-Tamil Solidarity.   

The Indonesian authorities early this month threatened the asylum seekers to be forcibly disembarked from the boat.  

There are 247 Tamil Asylum seekers on the boat.  Amongst them there are 31 children, 29 women (one of whom is 7 months pregnant) and 187 men.  On 23 December 2009, George Jacob Samuel Christin, a 29 year asylum seeker died on the boat after vomiting blood for two days and being refused medical treatment by Indonesian authorities.

For more information about the detainment, contact:

Madhuni Kumarrakulasinghe, 0415693121


Thursday, January 14, 2010


The Tamil Community around the world held vigils on the 18th January as part of an international day of action; joining various organisations to highlight the issue regarding the Tamil Asylum Seekers in Merak who have spent 100 days on a boat asking for Asylum. The vigils demanded that the Australian Government take responsibility over the 254 Tamil refugees, currently in Merak, Indonesia whom they left stranded in Indonesian waters. Events were held at these locations:
12:30 - 1:30 PM, Kevin Rudd's office, 70 Phillip Street Sydney.
Newcastle (NSW):
4:30pm, At the Clock Tower, Beaumont St, Hamilton
5:30 pm outside the State Library, Cnr Swanston/Latrobe Streets, Melbourne
4:00 PM
Australian Consulate, 186-194 Quay St, Auckland , March up Queen
Street at 5pm, March will conclude opposite Aotea Square
11am – 2pm, Australian Consulate, 175 Bloor Street, East Toronto
4:00 PM, The Australian High Commission, Strand, London WC2B 4LA
(corner of the Aldwych and the Strand. Nearest Tube station: Temple)
Washington: Email and postcard campaign
Malaysia : Email and postcard campaign
For more information go to the Facebook Page:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Melbourne 18th January Protest in solidarity with the Merak refugees

100 days and counting…
As part of an international day of action, the Tamil community and a range of progressive groups will be holding a protest at 5.30pm Monday January 18th outside the State Library in Melbourne. (Corner of Swanston and Latrobe Streets in the City)

The protests are demanding that the 254 Tamil refugees, currently in Merak (Indonesia), be allowed to come to Australia.

As part of the government's alleged "Indonesian Solution", Kevin Rudd personally requested that the Indonesian Navy intercept the boat to stop the people from entering Australian waters. His aim was to sub contract the problem out to Indonesia.

For nearly 100 days now the refugees have refused to leave the boat for fear of being locked up in an Indonesian detention centre or being sent back to Sri Lanka.

The refugees are rightly demanding that they be afforded their basic human rights and that Australia, as a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, adhere to its international responsibilities.

The refugees want nothing more than to be offered the same deal as those who were on board the Australian customs vessel, the Oceanic Viking.

Already one man has died on the boat due to a lack of medical care and the negligence of the Indonesian Navy and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

It's time for Rudd to act quickly before more lives are lost.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Age News - Tamil refugees 'questioned by Sri Lankan officials'

January 9, 2010
SRI Lankan embassy officials and naval officers have been allowed to question Tamil asylum seekers held in Indonesia, refugee advocates have claimed.
Those allegedly questioned include eight asylum seekers who had been trying to reach Australia when they were intercepted by Indonesia at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's request.
One of the officials was Captain Kapil of the Sri Lankan embassy in Jakarta, Australian refugee advocate Saradha Nathan said last night.
The eight asylum seekers were originally on the boat in the port of Merak - at the centre of a 3½-month stand-off - that 244 other Tamil asylum seekers are still on.
The eight Tamils agreed to be moved to a detention centre in the hope of having their asylum claim fast-tracked. The others on board are refusing to leave, despite deteriorating health and sanitation concerns, unless taken to Australia for processing.
Under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, third countries are expected to protect refugees from being interrogated by officials from the country they fled.
However, Indonesia is not a signatory to the convention.
"The [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] should protect the refugees from such interrogation,'' Mr Nathan said. ''Indonesia should not allow Sri Lanka to have access to the asylum seekers when they are trying to flee from persecution."
The Sri Lankan navy officers were attempting to negotiate for the eight detainees to return to Sri Lanka, and had threatened to deport all those on the boat at Merak to the Boosa jail in Sri Lanka, he said. This was reportedly the fate of one asylum seeker in Indonesia who returned to Sri Lanka to care for his sick mother early in December. He is in jail in Sri Lanka, Mr Nathan said.
The asylum seekers are also fearful that their details will be given to the Sri Lankan Government, because this may endanger their families.
''As the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took the initiative to push the boat back to Indonesian authorities, Australia should now take responsibility and rectify this humanitarian crisis," Mr Nathan said.
Last year, Australia's Immigration Department paid a compensation settlement for allowing Chinese Government officials to enter the Villawood detention centre and question Chinese detainees, many of them Falun Gong members.

See also article published in The Australian, "Sri Lanka grills Tamils in Jakarta":

Breaking News - Asylum Seekers Interrogated by their Persecutors in Indonesian Detention

9.30pm January 8th
Breaking News – Asylum Seekers Interrogated by their Persecutors in Indonesian Detention

Three Sri Lankan Navy officers have been allowed access to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees currently in Immigration Detention in Jakarta in Indonesia.

The asylum seekers have fled persecution by the Sri Lankan government, yet Captain Kapil from the Sri Lankan Embassy along with two other Sri Lankan Navy officers were brought into the Indonesian detention facility by Indonesian Immigration Officials today. While the other two Navy officers stayed outside, Capt Kapil held discussions with eight Tamil asylum seekers who had completed Indonesian immigration forms two days prior. These 8 asylum seekers had disembarked from the boat
currently moored at Merak in Indonesia several weeks ago.

Another 244 asylum seekers are still on the boat refusing to leave for fear of being sent back to Sri Lanka. They are pleading to have their cases for asylum processed in Australia. The stand-off between the asylum seekers and the Australian government has now been going for more than three months and is at crisis point with many of the people on the boat suffering from malnutrition, diarrhea, and other illnesses. One of the asylum seekers, George Jacob Samuel Christin, died on Christmas Eve following untreated illness on the boat.

Australian refugee advocate Saradha Nathan says, "The UNHCR should protect the refugees from such interrogation. Indonesia should not allow Sri Lanka to have access to the asylum seekers when they are trying to flee from persecution in Sri Lanka."

The Sri Lankan navy officers are attempting to negotiate for the eight detainees to return to Sri Lanka, and have threatened to deport all those on the boat at Merak to the Boosa jail in Sri Lanka. This was the fate of one asylum seeker in Indonesia who returned to Sri Lanka to care for his sick mother early in December. He is currently jail in Sri Lanka.

The asylum seekers are fearful that their details will be given to the Sri Lankan government and this may endanger their families. Saradha Nathan is concerned about the safety of their information. She says, "Indonesia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention and these asylum seekers are not safe in Indonesian Detention. They need to be brought to Australia immediately to have their cases processed in a country that provides asylum to refugees. As the Australian Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd took the initiative to push the boat back to Indonesian authorities, Australia should now take responsibility and rectify this humanitarian crisis."

The Tamil's spokesman, Sanjeev "Alex" Kuhendrarajah, said "We are losing time. We have all the time to feel sorry about what happened to the 244 refugees after they disappear inside Sri Lanka. Is Australia going to do anything about it?"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ABC News - "Tamils not receiving medical help, doctor says"

Wed Jan 6, 2010 8:21am AEDT

An Australian doctor says he has had to resort to giving medical advice over the phone to asylum seekers on a boat at an Indonesian port.

The Tamils have been refusing to go into detention for processing for almost three months.

A man died on the boat, moored at Merak, before Christmas, and others are getting treatment at the local hospital.

But refugee advocate and doctor Brian Senewiratne says authorities are not responding to requests for medical help.

"It is outrageous that I have to do such a thing because they are not getting any treatment of any sort," he said.

"There is a not a single medically-qualified person on the boat and all the international aid agencies and those who could supply help, such as international aid agencies, have all pulled out.

"I think that the Australian Medical Association should insist that Australian doctors - one, two or three - be allowed access for medical reasons to check up on the medical situation both on the boat as well as the so-called detention centres."

Source: ABC News,

CNN Report - Asylum Seekers on Boat in Merak, Indonesia

Life of an Asylum Seeker
January 5th 2010
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to one asylum seeker stranded off the coast of Indonesia, trying to reach Australia.

Lateline Report - Indonesian Detention Centres

Lateline 27 October 2009 - Conditions in Indonesian Detention Centres from jessie taylor on Vimeo.

Steve Cannane reports: New evidence has emerged of the condition's many asylum seekers endure in Indonesian detention. Melbourne lawyer and refugee advocate Jessie Taylor, who documented conditions across the country, says Australia's policy must change.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas at Merak

On Boxing Day, 2009, the IOM was persuaded to take a box of books and toys donated by Waverley Council in NSW as well as a group in Malaysia. The donation was a Christmas gift for the children on the boat. The gifts were distributed on the 26th as it was considered inappropriate to give presents on the 25th, after the death of Charles Jacob Christin on Christmas Eve.
The presents were received with much excitement.
Despite the death of Jacob (A Roman Catholic) and the significance of Christmas to those of the Christian Faith, about 30 Christians were denied the right to practice their religion.  Father Adrianus Suyadi a Roman catholic priest who travelled to Merak on the 27th of December 2009 to provide them with pastoral care during this time was denied access to the boat.
See ABC Australia's article on this issue:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Update - Asylum seeker arrested in Merak

The asylum seeker who was taken into custody by Indonesian Police when he accompanied fellow asylum seekers to a local hospital in Merak for treatment has now been transferred to a Jakarta prison.
The asylum seekers were receiving medical treatment following the death of George Jacob Samuel Christin on Christmas Eve.
Four others were arrested on Tuesday 15 December when they left the boat to seek medical treatment and other essential supplies.
Refugee advocates are concerned for their welfare and precarious legal position.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Australian citizens and community workers are deeply concerned for the welfare of 246 asylum seekers on board the boat at Merak’s shores in Indonesia.
They have been there for 11 weeks now, without access to medical supplies, basic amenities and life jackets. Over 30 children are on board and suffering from ill health including diarrhea. The boat was built to accommodate 50 people, yet there are nearly 250 people on board with access to only one toilet.
On Christmas eve one of the young men, Charles Jacob, died due to extreme illness after being refused treatment by Indonesian authorities and the IOM.
Show your support.

"Land Without Checkpoints Feels Free to Tamil Refugees" - Article in The Age Monday, 28th December

December 28, 2009

''IT FEELS like freedom, now,'' says Sanmugam Sarpatheepan.
Around him are the markers of his new life; the modest home in Melbourne's west is well maintained but has few personal touches, except for a couple of unwashed teacups in the kitchen.
Mr Sarpatheepan, 25, and his intellectually impaired housemate, Kanapathippillai Thajaparan, 24, are no ordinary new arrivals: they are the only Sri Lankans off the customs ship Oceanic Viking to have been resettled in Australia after the October stand-off involving 78 asylum seekers.
The duo, who are distant relatives, landed at Melbourne Airport on December 20 from Jakarta, but their route here has been tumultuous.
It was reported during the impasse that each passenger had paid $US12,000 to a people smuggler, but these young men say they paid $US6000 each for passage on the ''no-good boat'' from Jakarta. When it started sinking after about four days, they were picked up by the Australian ship, but in Indonesia's search and rescue zone.
Although in Australia barely a week , Mr Sarpatheepan is alive to some of the nuances of the refugee debate that followed the boat's interception. He agreed to speak, he says, because he wants to show the desperation that drives Tamils to get on to ''bad boats'' to seek refuge in a far-off continent.
''Being born as a Tamil in Sri Lanka, you have no freedom … the ultimate choice is to flee the country,'' says Mr Sarpatheepan. His family home near Jaffna, in the north, was at the frontline of the bloody ethnic conflict between the Government and Tamil Tiger rebels.
The Tigers have now been defeated, but thousands of displaced civilian Tamils are fearful, he says.
Although he mostly speaks through an interpreter, he barely pauses to draw breath as he recalls neighbours and friends, all young men, who have ''got disappeared'' after an encounter with the Sri Lankan army. The interrogators, he alleges, would accuse every civilian of being a Tiger operative. Young women in his home town would regularly be sexually assaulted.
Mr Sarpatheepan remembers, most graphically, his friend, Danu, then 22. ''He got arrested one day, and he didn't come back,'' he says. Determined that their son avoid this fate, the salesman's parents raised the money to buy him an air ticket to Jakarta in 2006 that could eventually secure a sea passage to Australia.
But in Jakarta on a one-month tourist visa, he was jailed by police and then spent about 10 months in a detention centre in Makassar, South Sulawesi. When he was released, the International Organisation for Migration placed him on Lombok Island, near Bali, where he stayed in a hotel for two years.
Mr Sarpatheepan said it was in Lombok, where he had ''freedom of movement'', that he was able to make arrangements to cross to Australia. His cousins, many of whom had already resettled in Western countries, raised the money for the passage.
''Australia is a land of freedom,'' he said. ''There is no checkpoint, and I don't get stopped by the military.''
He smiles, but there is a touch of longing for things lost. ''You know, every Tamil would go back to Sri Lanka if there is no war.''