Activists deported as Indonesian authorities plan forced eviction of refugees

The Indonesian authorities recently arrested activists from Australia and Canada. These people had gone to Merak in an attempt to help the over 250 refugees who have been held on a boat there since October.


The three activists held them for the whole evening without charge. Saradha Nathan, one of the activists arrested, reported on how desperately the authorities were trying to work out a charge and came out with all sorts of accusations, including claiming that her husband is a people smuggler! All the activists were deported to their respective countries to prevent any help or aid organised to the refugees in a boat in Merak.


Now we have received reliable information that the Indonesian authorities are planning a forceful removal of the refugees from the boat and will then hold them in a detention centre.

Tamil solidarity ask all its supporters to send protest letters/emails/messages to Indonesian high commissions around the world immediatly.

Following are the facts as observed by Saradha Nathan:


“Internet access to the boat is being scrambled. Therefore, any videos taken on the boat cannot be streamed to the world.

Indonesian Immigration is preparing detention facilities for those on board the boat.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is due to go to Merak on 6 February for a naval exercise.

Donations of anti-fungal creams, multi-vitamins for the pregnant lady and children, pregnancy dresses, etc were sent through IOM (International Organisation for Migration) but confiscated by the Immigration office and held in the office of Mohammed Solen of the Immigration Office, Chilegon.

Medical records of asylum seekers are confiscated and kept by the IOM and not given to the patients.

IOM is has not changed the diet even though the diet lacks nutrients and is too spicy and oily and resulting in diarrhoea.

IOM is not giving anti-fungal cream or treatment for fungal infection even though 100+ suffering from such conditions.

The Sri Lankan Navy’s Captain Kapil interrogated UNHCR recognized Tamil refugees inside the Indonesian immigration detention cells.

Tarpaulins that were providing protection from the rain have torn due to prolonged use. IOM is not providing replacement tarpaulins, despite repeated requests. This has resulted in asylum seekers and their belongings getting wet due to stormy season.


No life jackets for the children and no anchor for the boat. As the rope securing the boat to the port is weathered and torn, there is a danger of the boat drifting out to sea with no life jackets for the children and only 20 life jackets for the 240 adults.”

Please follow the links for more details on the arrest and eviction

1. Nathan and Pamela Curr interview

2. Detention Centres

3. Lawyer and Documentary Film maker Jesse Taylor on Detention Centres in Indonesia on Lateline

4. Unaccompanied Minors in Indonesian Detention Centres on Lateline-Jesse Taylor

5. Original Report on Detention Centres in Indonesia by Jesse Taylor (Saradha et al visited the Detention Centre described in page 10-12-in my opinion description was pretty accurate)

6. Boats to India-Child Survivor of Sri Lanka’s war