Deathscapes

A Series of Boats 2d - Parallel Stories

Deathscapes

Parallel stories


‘There are more parallels here with SIEV X: a circuitous route from a long way off, yet a sinking location finally not far outside Indonesian contiguous waters, far from Australian waters, and in the Indonesian search and rescue zone; and plausibly accessible to Indonesian fishing boat rescue…The events have a similar smell to them as SIEV X: of a possible Indonesian police (INP) illegal disruption operation, from a remote location, highly profitable and sending a terrible deterrent message to others. 

Tony Kevin on the sinking of the Barokah 


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Following the Barokah’s sinking, customs officials told a Senate Estimates hearing that Indonesia had initially declined Australia’s offer to help with the search and rescue mission. However, an official incident timeline, obtained under freedom information laws, revealed that BASARNAS, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, had in fact asked AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) to coordinate the rescue response and AMSA had initially refused. For two days, while men, women and children struggled to survive in the water, Indonesian and Australian authorities did nothing. By the time AMSA agreed to assist, it was too late: over 200 people had drowned.

The survivors were detained in Indonesia; subsequently some of them again attempted to reach Australia by boat. Tony Kevin, a highly knowledgeable commentator on maritime operations, noted that the Barokah’s sinking recalled the infamous case of SIEV X in which 353 asylum seekers and refugees, the bulk of them women and children, died. The fate of SIEV X, and  the many unknowns that surround it, continue to haunt Australia’s treatment of refugees.


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