Published: Australian Financial Review
The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, arrives on an official visit to Australia today. One of the topics to be discussed is people smuggling. Yudhoyono has already put his neck on the line for Kevin Rudd and the result of that intervention lies mouldering in the port of Merak in Indonesia.
The vessel has 246 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on board. It has been sitting in limbo for 150 days because the Rudd government refuses to accept responsibility for the people on board. There are 31 children, 27 women and 196 men living on a vessel designed to take 50 at most. There is only one toilet on board, if it can be called that. Nothing is hygienic on board that vessel.
Manju who is 37 weeks pregnant, her due date is 5.4.10, has contracted chicken pox.
Mrs. Rudd, Threse Rein, as a patron of UNICEF, was written to by Tamil organisations in Australia seeking intervention and support on behalf of this women and by implication the other women and children on board. She has not responded.
Rudd will be seeking undertakings and guarantees from Yudhoyono relating to the interception and warehousing of asylum seekers who make it to Indonesian shores as part of his obtund and indifferent attitude and policy toward asylum seekers and refugees. Before agreeing to help the recalcitrant Rudd, Yudhoyono should demand, as a precondition, that Rudd process on board and accept into Australia all those asylum seekers on the vessel in the port of Merak found to be refugees.