A Series of Boats 2h - A Boat Called the Kaniva


A Fatal Sequence: The Kaniva

The composition is split into two horizontally. In the top image a large wave threatens to crash down on a small timber boat. In the bottom image, the boat has capsized and only the front tip remains above the surface.

[imagecaption] Refugee Art Project. Artist: Murtaza Ali Jafari. [/imagecaption]


During World Refugee Week 2012, the Kaniva sailed into international waters, north-west of Christmas Island. On board were 210 men and boys from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, along with four Indonesian crew members. Over half of them drowned after the fishing boat went into distress. The bodies of 17 people were recovered and subject to a coronial inquest held in Western Australia. In his opening address, Counsel assisting the Coroner marked that the wooden boat looked old and terminate-ridden, was overcrowded and had an insufficient number of life jackets. At least one member of the crew abandoned the boat early in the voyage.

Such factors must be understood as part of what politicians have come to refer to as ‘the people smugglers’ business model’. As Kevin points out, this ‘model’  is one produced collaboratively between states and smugglers: as states are known to intercept and destroy boats and imprison crew members, smugglers resort to ever more unseaworthy boats and employ crew members considered expendable (often the elderly or children), or who are likely to abscond. This ‘business model’ is one that compounds the dangers for asylum seekers while extending the profits of the smugglers and allows states to implement policies of deterrence under the guise of ‘saving lives’.


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