On Tuesday reports emerged from Indonesia that asylum seekers bound for New Zealand had been intercepted by an Australian navy vessel. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said Australia is continuing to shirk responsibility for asylum seekers in the region as reports come in of a further turnback by an Australian vessel.
The ABC reported that the vessel held 54 Sri Lankans and 10 Bangladeshis, who were now on Rote Island in Indonesia. It has also been reported that children were among those on board the vessel, which crashed on a reef.
More than 8,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis have been stranded at sea since Thai authorities closed a trafficking route from Burma.
The Australian government has continued to resist taking any asylum seekers during the regional crisis, sparking a rebuke from Indonesia.
Hanson-Young said the federal government was putting asylum seekers at risk with its policy of turning back vessels.
“Australia’s policy of turning back boats continues to put the lives of young children at risk,” she said. “While Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have ceased turning boats around, the Australian government continues to shirk its responsibilities in the region, putting lives in peril.
“The government continues to snub its neighbours’ efforts to save lives of asylum seekers in the south-east Asian seas by using the Australian navy to turn boats around.
“Continuing to turn boats around and expecting our regional neighbours to take responsibility for those seeking asylum is shameful and continues to put innocent lives at risk.”
The federal government has adopted a policy of extreme secrecy on asylum seeker movements at sea and refuses to confirm whether turnback operations have occurred.