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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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Survivors Speak: Hassan Jassem

by Marg Hutton
7 July 2003

31 year old Hassan Jassem from Basra is 'Person 16' in Keysar Trad's transcript of survivor interviews and the fifth in our series of lightly edited extracts from this transcript (1, 2, 3, 4). Hassan (also known as Falah Hassan Jassem Al Mosawi) lost his wife and three children on SIEVX - Fatima aged 5, Batoul aged 20 months and an infant boy aged 3 weeks.

We do not know in which country Hassan Jassem has been resettled.

SIEVX survivor Hassan Jassem I did not get to enjoy looking at my 20 day old child enough. My wife and daughters were looking at me and crying as the ship capsized.

I am unwell. I cannot go into the hospital in Indonesia. Every time I go, I remember how when I was in hospital before, my wife who had heart problems used to come to visit me and look after me...

I lost three children and my wife, but the 150 children are like my own too. Those who perished with their families have found reprieve, but as for us, we are mere empty shells, our souls went with them.

When water started to overtake the boat, my family and I were in a room inside. Many were sea sick. When my daughter saw others seasick she did not take much notice but would continue to play as if things were normal. This time however, she felt that there was a real danger, so she went to her mother. She was very afraid and horrified. Her mother was crying and reading Qur`an. She placed the Qur`an on her daughter's head to pray for her.

I saw my entire family crying. To this day I remember the scene. My wife holding the 20 day old child and crying, not knowing what to do, and the children crying.

Before the incident I would come home and kiss my sleeping children for ten minutes. I was always looking at them. My wife thought that I was mad. She would always ask 'Why?' I would say that I do not know, I have an ominous feeling, I do not know. My son was born recently. When people called me Abu Ali I felt that this son would not live for long. I felt strange when they called me father of Ali (Abu Ali).

There were two engines, one was not working. I was trying to repair it. It was an old engine but we repaired it as new. I never imagined that the boat would sink. As I would work on repairing the boat, I was looking at my family. As the boat began to capsize they were all looking at me trying to repair the boat. I am still affected by these final moments (weeping). My wife fell whilst holding the 20 day old baby.

When the boat capsized I lost my sanity. I was weeping over my misfortune that I did not die with them. I began searching for them.

Every time I saw a child I could not differentiate between it and my children. My wife and children stayed under the boat - they never came out.

I was not wearing a lifejacket. I was hitting at my head and lamenting my loss and praying for my own death. I was dragged under water three times - I do not know what kept pushing me up to stay alive.

Anywhere I placed my arm, a drowned child or woman would emerge and lift my arm and the surviving women would cry more.

As for me, remaining in Indonesia causes us depression. Every time we see the scene it reminds me and the others of these tragedies.

We wanted to live with the Australian people. We appeal to the Australian people to take up our cases. There is no difference between us even though we have a different faith - we are still human beings. We appeal to the new government to find a solution for us.

Other sources
Hassan Jassem appears in the list of survivors provided to the Senate by the AFP as: Falah Hassan Jassem Al Mosawi ( 11361) | ©Copyright Marg Hutton ~ / 2002-2014