Smoke and mirrors conceals machinery of death used by Australian Government to "deter" asylum seekers
On Saturday 14 December 2002 a community forum was held in Adelaide to present recent developments in the unfolding dirty story surrounding the sinking of a boat known as SIEV-X and the subsequent deaths by drowning of 353 people, mainly women and children. The guest speaker was Tony Kevin, a former Ambassador to Cambodia and Poland, a person who had spent over 30 years as a public servant, and presumably well-versed in the ways in which governments and their functionaries perform the unpalatable, unprincipled and unethical acts against fellow human beings in the construction and maintenance of official state policies. In this case the fatal burden of the Australian Government's policy of "deterrence" of people-smuggling was carried by the human payload of an overloaded and possibly sabotaged boat identified as Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X (SIEV-X), which sank on 19 October 2001.
The forum was convened at the St Ignatius church hall in Norwood, and was chaired by Father Tony Pearson from The Otherway Centre, and also included presentations by Senator Andrew Bartlett, Leader of the Australian Democrats and Senator Linda Kirk, ALP South Australia.
Unsurprisingly, sustained mainstream media interest in SIEV-X has been minimal, despite the human scale of the tragedy. Compare this to prolonged gaze of the media eye at the recent Bali bombing. Most information about SIEV-X has in fact been generated by the work of Tony Kevin, who has made submissions about SIEV-X to Senate's A Certain Maritime Incident Committee. His efforts have recently culminated in 2 motions by the Australian Senate calling for firstly, an independent judicial inquiry with full powers to determine the Australian Government's direct role in "at any cost" strategies to keep boats from landing on our shores, in particular the People Smuggling Disruption Program conducted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Indonesia, and secondly, joint action by the Australian and Indonesian governments to extradite Abu Quassey on charges of mass homicide.
Kevin started his talk by stating that a key figure in the SIEV-X sinking, the alleged people smuggler Abu Quassey, will walk free from an Indonesian prison on 1 January 2003, and that the Australian Government is trying to ensure this, or at least, is manifestly not trying to extradite him on the crime of homicide (people-smuggling is not recognised as a crime of extradition in Indonesia). Curious? Maybe not if you consider that if Abu Quassey does come to Australia many people in both governments will be severely embarrassed. And this is because that Quassey is not a people smuggler but a people smuggling disprupter, a sting operator, a kind of double agent, operating under the largess of various Australian and Indonesian police and defence agencies.
According to Tony Kevin, the criminalising of people smugglers leads to extremely cruel treatment of human beings. Both the clients and the smugglers are not criminals -- asylum seekers are those fleeing persecution, and the "smugglers" are people like taxi drivers and ferry folk, providing a transport service from A to B. But the Australian Federal Police, guided by the increasingly hardcore snuff policies of the Federal Government, are attempting to criminialise people smuggling, trying to infiltrate and disrupt it, with no regard for the potential deadly consequences of their at-a-distance state sanctioned actions.
The SIEV-X overload factor was four times its designated payload of 420 people, and twice as much as any other boat which had been intercepted in the past. Imagine it, this is a boat which was only 19.5 metres long and 4 metres wide (this remarkably precise figure of the boat's dimensions was provided by DIMIA just five days after the sinking of SIEV-X -- how did they access this information when the government is still saying it did not know for example exactly where the SIEV-X sank? This is but one of numerous inconsistencies in the level of detail or non-detail purportedly held by the different players in this shameful situation.)
Given this unprecedented overloading it is obvious that SIEV-X was never destined to reach Christmas Island. It was *designed to sink*. With 420 people on board, once the seas became choppy, the boat would start to sink. Add to this already ill-omened scenario the possibilty of additional mechanical sabotage (something in the engine and the hull weakened have been mentioned), the fate of the asylum seekers was sealed.
Asyum seekers, some of whom had been offered free tickets to ride by "commercial smugglers". 420 people who had been given free day accommodation in a hotel prior to departure. Eye-witness accounts of uniformed armed Indonesian police forcing people to board the boat when they began to get scared, seeing how overcrowded the vessel. was Abu Quassey carrying a police phone. People beaten on board. A few lucky people got off at the boat's first port of call, an island, after being given the warning by fellow Sabean Christian crew members to leave the boat.
Six hours after the boat sank survivors reported a grey boat (police launch?) which shone search-lights into the waters. No attempt at rescuing anyone was made by this vessel.
Was a tracking device had been fitted to SIEV-X? This question was put by Labor Senate Leader John Faulkner to AFP Commisioner Mick Keelty in Novewmber 2002. Keelty has refused to answer on the grounds of "public interest immunity".
Err come again, whose interest was that, Mr Keelty?
One possible scenario is that such a tracking device fitted to the SIEX-X enabled the mystery grey launch to locate the sinking boat, and then to later alert fishing boats in the vicinity to go there and see what was left, in other words, to provide the necessary evidence that a crime of people-smuggling (not mass murder) had been perpetrated.
Advance Australia Fair.
If the Australian Government through its agencies is implicated in this abhorrent act, what is the motive? Despite all the disinformation bled by government press releases and mainstream media drones, the Tampa incident clearly demonstrated that the Australian Navy wasn't willing to kill refugees and that refugees were not prepared to turn back to non-Australian shores when ordered to. Therefore, to ensure that Australia's border protection policies were to be guarded and maintained as zealously as inhumanly possible, a massive deterrent was needed, a sacrificial cow of 420 souls, a new government-sanctioned twist in the ethnic cleansing business.
A bitter twist which saw the Indonesian government subsequently change its position on the tow-back of boats for humanitarian reasons, once Indonesia had seen what depths the Australian Government was prepared to sink, or sink people to, for the purity of its coastal hymen protection.
Once motive is established we can look at the means. Enter the Australian Federal Police, an agency accountable to no-one it would appear, and involved in serious criminality in Indonesia, shielded by a Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and Indonesia. The AFP's strategy of terror includes setting up sting companies, dangerous and occasionally lethal mechanisms of entrapment. Some of the stings and boat sabotages have been described publically by ex-AFP informant Kevin Enniss.
Why does border protection cost so much, and what is the true social cost of state-sanctioned terror?
The AFP maintains a close liaison with the Indonesian Police. Five Indonesian Police Special Intelligence Units (SIU) have been set up. The AFP funded twenty officers and set up 5 teams in key locations including Jakarta, West Java, Lombok and Bali. These teams trained in Bali in 2000. People smuggling was not, and is not, illegal in Indonesia. According to Tony Kevin, what the AFP have done is set up mercenaries to combat an activity which is not illegal in Indonesia.
See Nip bark, See Fluff run. See Mick Keelty wash his hands.
AFP Commisioner Mick Keelty has admitted that the AFP (conveniently) has no idea how the teams would go about their tasks of 'target selection', 'information management' and so on. If they would, for example, sabotage engines or block fuel lines. The AFP enjoys the protection of the embassy and communicating with good ol' SIU mates.
Kill the refugees.
Imagine. What if between 8-12 October 2001 word up from the Australian Government highest echelons is that "We want a BIG deterrent operation." AFP tells SIU. SIU tells Abu Quassey. A smooth operation proceeds with no hassles or hold ups from the Indonesian Police. Day accommodation for the ill-fated 420 people is arranged. No problem. Tracking device planted. Boat sinks. AFP achieve the Government's perhaps cryptically coded but not hard to decipher command. Plausible Deniabilty.
In September 2001 the Indonesians abruptly cancelled the People Smuggling Protocol with Australia. Perhaps they were already beginning to worry about the Australian corruption of some of their police officers.
Tony Kevin states that there is "very strong evidence" that the AFP were in direct contact with those people who organised the sinking of the SIEV-X. The much-muffled and stymied Senate Inquiry report has been released for seven weeks but the issue of who killed those 353 people aboard the SIEV-X won't die.
The Australian Government claims that it has not been able to pinpoint the exact location of where the SIEV-X sank, and therefore it is up to the Indonesians to decide whether or not to prosecute Quassey. But there is very strong multi-source information, including the DIMIA Report released on 24 October 2001 that the boat sank in international waters. Indonesian waters only extend to 12 kilometres from its coastline.
Consummate ex-diplomat, Kevin made a representation to the Indonesian Embassy on 12 December 2002 that they should reject the trap that Australia is trying to set for them. He suggested to them to say publically that after examining the evidence the Indonesian Government accepts that SIEV-X sank in international waters, and that it would support extradition of Abu Quassey to Australia to face homicide charges.
There are now 15 days till the release of Abu Quassey. In his recent Adelaide speech Tony Kevin urged that people lobby the government and media for a full and open judicial inquiry, and the immediate extradition of Quassey, to get to the heart of this current darkness and expose the cynical and willful irresponsibilty of the Government.
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