Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

254 Tamil Boat Refugees in Indonesia

by E.S., February 2, 2010

Please do your utmost urgently to stop the asylum seekers on the boat being forcibly removed from the boat and make sure the Indonesian authority allow the humanitarian NGOs and media access to ensure human rights are not violated at any time...

I understand over 100 of these refugees were already recognized as genuine refugees by the UNHCR. Please do your utmost to resettle them as a matter of urgency.  

The Honorable Robert O Blake
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
US Department of State
Washington, DC 

Your Excellency;    

Re: (S.O.S); Alarmed by the serious concerns raised by the refugee activists who are closely working with the 254 boat refugees in Merak, Indonesia  

I received alarming reports and serious concerns from the refugee activists who are closely working with the 254 boat refugees in Merak, Indonesia, that the Indonesian authorities may force the asylum seekers off the boat prior to 6 February prior to time President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is due to go to Merak on 6th February for a naval exercise.  

There is an imminent plan by the Indonesian authority to use force against these people to send them into detention camps. Indonesian authority already scrambling the internet access to these boat people and blocks the outside world communication to these helpless and hapless people.  

There is also serious concern that some of the asylum seekers, including Alex (Spokeperson for the boat people), might be assaulted by the Indonesian authorities. Perhaps because of this, the internet access at the boat is being scrambled.  

Donations of anti-fungal creams, multi-vitamins for the pregnant ladies and children, pregnancy dresses, etc were sent through IOM but confiscated and held in the office of Mohammed Solen of the Immigration Office, Chilegon. Medical records of asylum seekers are confiscated and kept by the IOM and not given to the patients. IOM has not changed the diet even though the diet lacks nutrients and is too spicy and oily and resulting in diarrhea.  IOM is not giving anti-fungal cream or treatment for fungal infection even though 100+ suffering from condition.  

Sri Lankan Navy’s Capt Kapil interrogated UNHCR recognized Tamil refugees inside the Indonesian immigration detention cells. Tarpaulins that were providing protection from the rains have torn due to prolonged use. IOM is not providing replacement tarpaulins, despite repeated requests. This has resulted in asylum seekers and their belongings getting wet due to stormy season.  

No life jackets for the children and no anchor for the boat. As the rope securing the boat to the port is weathered and torn, there is a danger of the boat drifting out to sea with no life jackets for the children and only 20 life jackets for the 240 adults.  

I am sure, you are closely monitoring the situation with these unfortunate Tamil refugees and their plights in the boat over 100 days in Merak, Indonesia through your able staff and doing what you can to help these people, yet I would like to bring your attention of the current situation of these people who are disowned by the world.  

Please do your utmost urgently to stop the asylum seekers on the boat being forcibly removed from the boat and make sure the Indonesian authority allow the humanitarian NGOs and media access to ensure human rights are not violated at any time...  

I understand over 100 of these refugees were already recognized as genuine refugees by the UNHCR. Please do your utmost to resettle them as a matter of urgency.  

Thank you for your time and consideration of my appeal on compassionate grounds.  

Yours truly,