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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: Sadiq & Kauthar

by Marg Hutton
9 July 2003

SIEVX survivors Sadiq Razak and his baby daughter Kauthar in Bogor on the day the world first heard of the sinking Less than two weeks after the Howard government began falsely claiming that asylum seekers on SIEV4 had thrown their children overboard, SIEVX sank and one of the survivors, Sadiq Raza, held his young two year old daughter Kauthar on his shoulders in the water for twenty hours to save her life. Heroic feats of endurance like this were also performed by other survivors who desperately tried to keep their young children alive until they were rescued, but sadly Kauthar Sadiq was the only small child to survive. Sadiq is 'Person 15' in Keysar Trad's transcript. He lost his wife and paternal cousin when SIEVX foundered:

I cannot speak about what I witnessed, please let me be excused. [His daughter Kauthar cries out for her mother.]

There were a number of us holding onto a plank of timber. As time went on in the water, one would say, 'I cannot hold on - please forgive me. Please pass my greetings to so and so' and they would lose their grip and get washed away. This happened to one after the other...


Other sources of information on Sadiq and Kauthar:

  • 'The Five Mysteries of SIEV X', Ghassan Nakhoul, SBS Arabic Radio, 28 Aug 2002
    SADEK RAZZAK: I carried her and kept her head up. We clung to a piece of wood and her life jacket helped me. And God gave this child another life. I never expected her to survive. I was hearing her breathing in and out. Whenever she fell asleep I would give her a little smack to keep her awake so she wouldn’t swallow water. I closed her mouth, and every time the wave got over the plank, I would wipe her nose to get out the salty water.

  • 'The Human Tide', Ghassan Nakhoul, Walkley Magazine, Summer 2003
    Sadek Razzak managed to save his two year old daughter. Whenever she fell asleep, he would give her a little smack to prevent her from swallowing salty water. He had to keep her head up so she wouldn't drown under the waves in the darkness. This went on for long hours. How many of us could imagine ourselves in such a situation? Yet that heroic act never made a cover story. I wondered what sort of awards would be bestowed upon that father if he were Australian.

  • 'We need to know their names',, 31 October 2002
    Kauthar Sadiq 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.

  • 'Survivors tell of horror', Lindsay Murdoch, Age 24 Oct 2001
    Sadiq Raza, 25, from Iraq, and his family were lucky to have been among first people to arrive at a wharf on people-smuggler buses in the early hours of last Thursday.

    The first 60 people to board the the boat were able to grab lifejackets. There were none for the rest of the passengers, who had paid up to $US4000 each for the trip. The boat started leaking minutes after leaving port.

    When the boat went down about 4pm on Friday, Raza clung to his two- year-old daughter, Kauthar Sadiq, who was crying and calling out for her mother, who is believed to have drowned almost immediately.

    Throughout the long night trying to keep his head about the huge waves, Raza kept the baby's legs wrapped around his neck.

    Often he thought she had died. But each time he shook her she woke.

    'It's a miracle I managed to keep her alive,' he said while nursing the child on his lap yesterday.

  • UN urges inquiry..., AFP, 25 October 2001
    Iraqi national Sadeq Razaq, 26, who saved his two-year-old daughter but lost his wife and cousin, said about 20 uniformed men, some armed, threatened to shoot them if they did not board the vessel.

    "When we got on the ship there were uniformed people with guns. They were helping the smugglers to take people on board," he told AFP in a hostel south of Jakarta where he has been accommodated.

    "We understood that the ship is dangerous. The uniformed people pushed us to get on the ship. We could not get back (to the land)...the uniformed people said 'If you come back we will shoot you'."

  • Refugees blame people smugglers..., A. Emmanuelle, Jakarta Post, 26 October 2001
    Most of them blamed the traffickers, who they claimed to have forced them at gun point to board the unseaworthy boat despite their protests over its obviously poor condition.

    "When I see these people again I will kill them with my own hands..," Sadeeq Razak, an angry Iraqi, told The Jakarta Post.

    "Because of them, I lost almost everything that matters to me," he said while trying to calm his two-year-old daughter Kautsar who had been crying constantly...

    Meanwhile, Kautsar, who was put on her father's shoulder, witnessed her mother gasping for air in the turbulent water before she finally let go of her piece of the shattered boat and drowned.

    "My wife and I were both clinging to some wood to stay afloat while at the same time I was trying to keep Kautsar on my shoulders," Sadeeq said through a translator.

  • Wife lost in SIEV-X disaster, Ainsley Pavey, AAP, 21 July 2004
    AN Iraqi man told today how he struggled for hours in rough seas, fearing his daughter was dead on his back, after their illegal vessel sank off Christmas Island.

    In fact Sadeq Razaq Toullah Al-Abodie managed to save his two-year-old daughter, but his wife was among 353 asylum seekers who died in the sinking of the SIEV-X in October 2001, he told a court today.

    Appearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court was Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 37, who is facing a preliminary hearing on 12 charges of people smuggling, which carry a maximum 20 year jail term.

    Commonwealth prosecutors have accused Mr Daoed of helping to organise the fatal trip from Indonesia with convicted smuggler Abu Quassey, who is in an Egyptian jail, and a third man known as "Mathem".

    Mr Al-Abodie, who has since settled in Finland, said he and his daughter, together with 43 others, were saved when plucked from the sea by fishing boats.

    His wife had urged him to take care of their daughter after the family was thrust into the sea with life jackets on.

    He lost sight of his wife in the waves, and never saw her again.

    "I had my daughter on my shoulders for two days, I thought she was dead but I was told by others that she was alive," Mr Al-Abodie told the court.

    He said frightened passengers aboard the doomed boat had desperately tried to get the captain to turn back, even taking up a collection to pay him at one point as water flooded the vessel.

    The boat was low in the water from the weight of passengers when it set sail from Indonesia in the middle of the night and was taking on water by morning, the court heard.

    Passengers had been crammed on board at gunpoint by armed Indonesian soldiers and forced to crouch because there was not enough room to sit, Mr Al-Abodie said.

    The vessel sailed between two islands but the skipper was worried about landing and facing the police.

    Some of the asylum seekers tried to use a satellite phone to call the smugglers but it would not work, Mr Al-Abodie said.

    He also told the court some passengers were forced to sit on top of the captain's quarters, on the boat's engine and chimney. ( 13738) | ©Copyright Marg Hutton ~ / 2002-2014