Sunday, 22 October 2017  
How many of the 1500 asylum seeker lives lost at sea since 2001 could have been saved?
Zahra (6), Fatima (7) and Eman (9) - the daughters of Sondos Ismail and Ahmed Alzalimi -  three of the 146 children who lost their lives when the vessel that has become known as SIEVX foundered in international waters en route to Christmas Island on 19 October 2001.
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We Need To Know Their Names

12 year old Zaynab, who lost her entire family when SIEVX sank, holds up a list of all those who drowned in the disaster.
 
by Marg Hutton
31 October 2002

I have just finished reading the chapter in the CMI Committee majority report on the sinking of SIEVX. One of the first things I noticed is that this report gives the erroneous figure of '70' for the number of children who lost their lives when the doomed vessel sank off the coast of Java on 19 October last year. (This is only one of many errors in this seriously flawed document.)

Seventy children is no small number but the truth is that more than twice that number drowned when SIEVX sank - 146 children, 142 women and 65 men - and now more than a year later we still do not even know their names.

We have been trying to obtain this information for more than three months, but all efforts so far have hit a brick wall.

Recently Senator Jacinta Collins' office has provided us with help - they contacted the IOM office in Jakarta to obtain a list of those who died on SIEVX only to be told that people smugglers would not keep a manifest of their passengers.

This reply by the IOM is very strange, as we know from other sources that soon after the sinking, the IOM office in Jakarta intended to compile this information and send it on to DIMIA.

How do we know this?

Firstly, there is an email from PM&C dated 24 October 2001 that was submitted to the CMI Committee. It reads in part:

'Richard Danziger [head of the IOM's office in Jakarta] advises that today they will begin the task of documenting personal details of the survivors and will then start trying to piece together details of those who drowned. We will forward this information once available.'

This document goes on to state that approximately 210 of the 418 passengers were known to the UNHCR and/or IOM. So it would seem highly likely that one or both of these offices would have considerable information available about many of those who died on SIEVX.

Secondly, there is the photo of 12 year old Zaynab pictured above holding up a list of victims. This photo originally appeared on the BBC website on 25 October last year and was clearly labelled 'a list of names of those killed'

Zaynab lost her entire family - two brothers, two sisters, her mother and father - and is now living in Sydney with an uncle.

This photo combined with the information above is strongly indicative that a list of all those who drowned was compiled by the IOM or UNHCR soon after the sinking and that this information was later sent on to DIMIA.

As long as these victims remain nameless it is easy to discount this huge tragedy that took place on our doorstep a year ago.

146 children, 142 women, 65 men - their bodies were never recovered from the ocean; they were never buried. Every single number represents a person. We need to know their names.

I have seen a videotape of the survivors that was taken in Bogor in the week following the sinking which formed the basis for the survivor accounts translated by Keysar Trad that were submitted to the CMI Committee as an attachment to Tony Kevin's first submission.

In this room full of grief-stricken men and women there is only one small child, two year old Kauthar Sadiq. She survived the sinking and miraculously made it through that long and horrible night atop her father's shoulders. In the video, she is wearing pink, and moving around as little children do, demanding attention, seemingly unaware of the horrific ordeal that she has endured while all around her other survivors are struck dumb and practically motionless in their grief. To look at this small child is to realise that there were another 140 children who did not survive. To really digest the horror of this, read the survivor accounts and where the death of a child is described try substituting the name of your own child and imagine what the suffering was like.

146 children, 142 women, 65 men.

We need to know their names.

 

 

 

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