Indonesian authorities report refugee boats pushed back by Australian Navy

The Australian Royal Navy towed back arriving asylum seekers to Rote Island, Indonesia, after claiming Christmas Island destination, Indonesian National Police reported Monday of last week. Last Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott supported lack of transparency on the issue.

Indonesian police found the two ships reportedly forcibly towed back from Australia on December 19, and on January 6 after being towed on New Year’s Day. A self-identified Sudanese asylum seeker from one of the boats reported the Navy ship numbers, identifying them as HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Glenelg, and said the refugees were denied access to navigation tools during the duration of the route and abandoned in sea in the middle of the night. Commenters called such practice “push-backs”, “tow-backs”, “turn-backs”.

Police chief Hidayat Rote Island, speaking to Fairfax Media, said the second boat was adrift: “They were rescued by the locals, because the boat engines were dead. The boat now is wreckage, near some reefs.”

The Australian government had also planned to purchase additional lifeboats for refugee expulsion from Australian waters, Fairfax Media reported.

Australian government originally had no response, but after protests of Labor and the Greens, Tony Abbott commented. Last Thursday, he supported lack of transparency on the issue by saying “I’d rather be criticised a bit for being a bit of a closed book on the issue, and actually stop the boats. I’m pleased to say that it’s now several weeks since we’ve had a boat, and the less we talk about operational details on the water, the better when it comes to stopping the boats.”

Read more: wikinews.org

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