caron eliot on Thu, 19 Dec 2002 11:13:48 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> 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 largesse 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.

With a payload of 420 people the SIEV-X overload
factor was four times greater than it should have been
given the boat's size, and twice as much as any other
vessel 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 submerge. Add to this already ill-omened
scenario the possibility 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 upon 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, the
Karakatu islands (Krakatoa), after being given the
warning by fellow Sabean Mendean 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

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

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

Consummate ex-diplomat, Kevin made a representation to
the Indonesian Embassy on 12 December 2002 advising
that they should reject the trap that Australia is
trying to set for them. He suggested an interesting
strategy 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. 

Further comprehensive archival and current
information: - Yahoo! Greetings
- Send your seasons greetings online this year!

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