Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Summary of asylum seeker burns claims

Picture from The Age
Six asylum seekers said to be on board a boat turned back to Indonesia on 6 January have detailed harm allegedly suffered at the hands of the Australian Navy.

Reports issued by Indonesian and Australian news agencies name six individual asylum seekers, all of East African origin.

The boat on which they were travelling to Australia was towed to Rote Island from waters close to Darwin on 6 January.

It was initially reported by the Indonesian police, including the police chief Hidayat that seven people had suffered burns when they were forced to hold a hot pipe.

Various reports in Indonesian and Australian press have detailed the following alleged victims of abuse:

1. Marke Abdullah Ahmed, Eritrean - allegedly kicked on left thigh and suffered a blister on his hand.

2. Bashka Ibrahim Nooris, Somalian, and

3. Ahmen Ali Noor, Somalian - allegedly suffered burns to their hands when they were forced to place their hands on a hot part of the boats engine when they asked to be allowed to use a toilet.

4. Another un-named burn victim.

5. Yousif Ibrahim, Sudanese - said the passengers were handcuffed, insulted and, in the case of one man, beaten with shoes.

6. Mohamed Abdirashid, Somalian - allegedly suffered burns to his right hand as a result of a lighter.

7. Yousif Fasher - said they were beaten.

Other claims include that the asylum seekers were denied water.

"They called us inhuman words, like illegal refugees, monkeys from Africa," an asylum seeker told AFP, adding that two sick children were denied medicine."  Reported 8 Jan

Reports of the alleged abuse were first made on 8 January. The Chief of the Defence Force David Hurley defended the professionalism of the personnel involved in the tow-back.

The issue was revived in the press on Wednesday after photographs and footage of the asylum seekers and their injuries emerged.

The ABC has reported Indonesian authorities are investigating the claims of abuse, but Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said no investigation had commenced and that the claims were unsubstantiated.



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