Action Alert Archive
Release Detained Human Rights Activists
January 29, 2010
Three activists—two Australian citizens and one Canadian citizen—were arrested by Indonesian police on their way to visit Tamil asylum-seekers still stranded on the Jaya Lestari, a boat moored in Merak, Indonesia since October 2009. The Jaya Lestari was en route from Sri Lanka to Australia, where the rights of the Tamil asylum-seekers were guaranteed protection. There are 247 people on the boat, including 31 children and a woman who is seven months pregnant. Instead of assisting these innocent civilians, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd personally asked Indonesian President Susilo Bambang to intercept and seize the Jaya Lestari, thereby denying these Tamils their rightful claims to asylum in Australia.
The currently detained activists are Australian Tamil Congress head Saradha Nathan, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Pamela Curr, and Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils' Jessica Chandrashekar. The activists went to Indonesia to meet with officials and arrange for the transportation of humanitarian supplies to the moored boat. Soon after arriving in Merak, the police took the three activists to the Merak Marine Police Station. They were released but rearrested within one day. The violation of these activists' rights by harassment is unacceptable.
Human rights and refugee activists are severely shocked at this arrest. The activists, whose concern is representative of the international community and the Tamil diaspora, sought to secure desperately needed supplies for the stranded asylum-seekers.
The Merak boat refugees have lived in overcrowded and inhumane conditions for over 100 days. Indonesia has requested Australia's help to resolve the situation, but Australia insists that the Jaya Lestari is Indonesia's burden. In December 2009, one Tamil asylum-seeker died after vomiting blood for two days because he was refused medical treatment by the Indonesian authorities. Australia must help release the human rights activists—two of whom are Australian—and help free the boat refugees.
Please pressure Indonesia into immediately releasing the activists so they may provide aid to the Tamils on the boat. Additionally, please ask Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to withdraw his interception request and work with Indonesia to allow the Tamils safe passage to their original destination, Australia.
The mission of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) is to end the systemic human rights abuses against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, and promote equality, rights and justice on the island. PEARL is 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.