Is Australia's Prime Minister responsible for the deaths of 150 children?
1 June 2002
The Senate Inquiry into a 'Certain Maritime Incident' was given the task to investigate the 'children overboard' scandal where the Howard Government inaccurately claimed during last year's election that a boatload of asylum seekers threw their children in the water. Up until recently, the worst case scenario was that our Prime Minister and his Government were prepared to make false accusations about boat people in order to gain base political advantage.
During the course of the Senate Inquiry, however, questions have been asked that cause the original terms of reference of the Inquiry to pale into insignificance.
Did the Howard Government knowingly cause or allow a boat carrying 397 [sic] asylum seekers to sink en route to Australia on 19 October last year resulting in the deaths of more than 350 people including 150 children?
Tony Kevin is the man responsible for lobbing this grenade into the Inquiry.
Kevin is a career diplomat, a former ambassador to Cambodia, who is now a visiting Fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at ANU. Using only the public record, Kevin has painstakingly researched the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. In the process he has discovered unanswered questions that suggest some really sinister possibilities. He has appeared before the Inquiry asking that these concerns be addressed.
Kevin is driven and tenacious. He will not let his questions remain unanswered. He may be to this Inquiry what Mark Lane was to the Kennedy assassination. And if only some of his suspicions are found to be true then this could be the greatest political scandal in Australia's history.
When the Inquiry resumes later this month, the focus will no longer be on whether our Prime Minister lied about asylum seekers throwing their children in the water. Instead everyone will be asking whether John Howard is responsible for the drowning at sea of 150 children.
Is our Prime Minister responsible for this horror:
"Wherever you look, you see the dead children like birds floating on the water."
"I boarded the boat with 15 family members nine drowned."
"I kept two of my children on my shoulder all night, it was raining heavily. One of the children died in the morning from thirst."
"The children were wearing lifejackets when the boat capsized. Unfortunately all the children were trapped inside the boat, only a small number were able to get out. Many died from thirst, the cold, the waves and the heavy rain."
"I was holding my brother's daughter, she kept crying all night because of thirst until she died."
"When the ship capsized, the 150 children kept floating up looking for air to breathe inside their cabin, more water went in they were drowned."
"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 on my greetings to so and so' and they would lose their grip and get washed away. This happened to one after the other."
"I saw my small daughter Alya floating, eyes open dead, a little later we saw the body of my elder daughter."
"I saw a woman giving birth in the ocean, I saw my brother being washed away by the waves."