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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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Survivors Speak: Dr Haydar from Khuzistan

by Marg Hutton
3 July 2003

We have recently obtained a digital copy of the interviews of the SIEVX survivors videotaped in Bogor in the week following the sinking. So we are now able to put faces to some of the survivors from the transcript of interviews translated by Keyar Trad. We begin with Dr Haydar [surname unknown] who appears in Trad's transcript as 'Person 9' and 'Person 20':

SIEVX survivor, Dr Haydar ? from Khuzistan I was part of a large group, only 5 remained. When the ship capsized the 150 children kept floating up looking for air to breathe inside their cabin - more water went in and they were drowned. I managed to swim out following a ray of light that beamed through...

We were a group of 28 doctors from Khuzistan. We lived in Iran for 11 years, only 5 remained. There were some children and some women amongst the group.

There was a call for the strong able-bodied men to take out the water. They were taking up buckets of water from the boat, the water went into the engines, there was also heavy rain and the boat was sinking.

As the water began to rise inside the boat people started to go en-mass to where there was no water, so the boat would tilt and water would follow them. They kept running for dry deck until the boat started to break apart and capsized.

The bottom level of the boat had women and children, the middle level had families and the top level had men only.

No one survived from the bottom level. As the boat capsized people were trapped with little air. I was inside with the children. There remained a small area where air was trapped, I had a lifejacket and was able to swim to safety, but the others, the children and the women had no chance.

The captain's room was all in the water.

Fish were biting at our bodies, I had to be hospitalised due to fish bites.

This horrible scene - between the broken boat, the fish biting at us and the dead bodies, there was a section of the boat with people standing on it and seeing their children dying. One would say: 'Haydar, look, my son Mohammad is dead'; I would say, 'We will follow them soon'. I saw the father looking up and calling to God: 'My God, you took my son, a sacrifice for you. If you would also like more, I submit to you.' He died after this. I do not know how far their voices in prayer reached. If suicide was permitted I am certain many would have let go.

I appeal to every Person with humanity, I appeal to the Australian people...

(For more on Dr Haydar see:
'The Legal Loopholes of Refugee Smuggling', Tempo Magazine, November 2001)

Thanks to Malcolm Farnsworth of for the digital conversion of the Bogor tape

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