Remember the SIEV-X

The Age
19 October 2005

While we are happy that most of the asylum seekers on Nauru have now been released from detention, the Howard Government has yet to respond to an even greater tragedy.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of SIEV-X, an asylum seeker boat that sank, killing 353 mainly Iraqi refugees, including 146 children and 142 women. Bereaved husbands and fathers live among us, their grief rarely acknowledged.

This year, commemorative events are taking place across Australia as a mark of respect to the survivors, the bereaved and especially the dead, the names of whom the Government refuses to release.

These deaths were a predictable outcome of a cruel and punitive policy that created a new market for perilous boat journeys by not allowing family reunion for refugees with temporary protection visas.

The Senate inquiry into the "children overboard" affair uncovered the involvement of Australian and Indonesian police in the people smuggling disruption program, which led to many questions that remain unanswered.

What did Australian authorities know about SIEV-X before it departed from Indonesia, and why was a search and rescue not launched?

Three Senate motions calling for a judicial inquiry into SIEV-X have been ignored.

Robin Rothfield and Sue Hoffman, Fairfield


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