SIEV X 3b - The Unthinkable Becomes Thinkable


 ‘A License to Kill’?

A large corrugated iron cutout of Géricault's 'The Raft of Medusa' sits on the shore of a beach in NSW. The viewer is positioned to look through and around this cutout towards the coastline and horizon in the background.

[imagecaption] The Corrugated Sea, Stephen Copland, 2010  [/imagecaption]

‘The Unthinkable Becomes Thinkable’

Kevin (2004: 15)


The boat that came to be known as SIEV X was officially excluded from its list of SIEVs by Australian authorities who at first insisted, wrongly, that it sank in Indonesian waters. The name SIEV X inserts the boat within the sequence of Australian asylum seeker boats despite this official denial, and also refers to the yet unsolved mysteries  attached to the deaths of the 353 lives lost in the sinking of the boat.

It is now established that the boat sank, not in Indonesian waters, but in international waters,  within the zone that was extensively patrolled and monitored by the Australian navy’s Operation Relex, under the regime of surveillance established by the Border Protection legislation of 2001 (Marr and Wilkinson 2003: 239-40; Kevin 2004: 95-100).

‘We had nothing to do with it, it sank, I repeat, sunk in Indonesian waters, not Australian waters’

John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia 1996 (cited in Kevin 2004: 96)

Although no trace of the boat was detected by Operation Relex, a Senate Committee established by a newly elected Labor government uncovered highly disturbing levels of knowledge about the boat by Australian officials and agents:

At no stage … will I break … the protocols in relation to operational matters involving ASIS [Australian Secret Intelligence Service] or the AFP [Australian Federal Police]. But those protocols were not meant as a direct or indirect licence to kill. (Senator John Faulkner cited in Kevin 2004: 8)

[imagecaption] John Faulkner’s third speech to the Senate regarding the PSDP in Indonesia ~ 25 September 2002 [/imagecaption]


Please Read

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.