If They Were Dogs or Cats
6 June 2002
'...don't get suckered into a SOLAS...'
Commander Norman Banks,
Commanding officer of the Adelaide,
quoting Brigadier Silverstone, (CMI 250, 300)
The more I read about the SIEVX Affair, the more I am persuaded that our Government bears some responsibility for the horrific deaths of hundreds of boat people who were on their way to Australia.
SIEVX was not the first Indonesian vessel carrying asylum seekers to be lost at sea en route to Australia with massive loss of life. In March 2000, three boats carrying a total of up to 380 passengers vanished without trace. The largest of these was a fishing boat in poor repair which carried around 220 people and was presumed to have gone down in much the same spot as SIEVX. Australian Intelligence at the time knew the date of this boat's departure and the probable number of passengers aboard, but when it failed to arrive at Christmas Island, no search was ever launched.
A spokesman for the Australian Iraq Association said at the time:
'If 300 dogs or cats died in one day the media would cover it and the government would go and find the bodies.'
An official interviewed about the tragedy a few months later said:
'You can imagine that you'd get 70 or 100 nautical miles out, the motor breaks down in bad weather, the vessel broaches and disappears under a wave - it could all happen very, very quickly.'
This is exactly what happened to SIEVX last October - which makes it all the more incredible, that despite the fact that our Government had a 'comprehensive surveillance pattern... in place [that was] doing nothing but looking for these boats' (Bonser CMI 1662) SIEVX slipped through the net and sunk without our Defence forces' knowledge.
Let's get this straight -
Once is perhaps understandable, twice suggests a pattern...
[1 June 2013, EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was written by me shortly before I started this website eleven years ago when I had not yet read widely on the subject and I believe it contains inaccurate information regarding the boats that allegedly went missing in March 2000. Please see instead this letter written earlier this year.]