Hazaras boat bound for Australia missing

January 17, 2010
AAP

A boatload of asylum seekers believed to have set off from Indonesian waters for Australia in October has never arrived, the Afghani refugee community says.

Brisbane-based Hassan Ghulam said worried relatives of 105 ethnic Hazaras believed to have left Indonesia on October 2 had started contacting him weeks ago.

Hazara are a Persian-speaking ethnic group who live mainly in the central region of Afghanistan.

"A young gentleman, he had a brother on that boat, he contacted me (saying) that the boat departed Indonesia on October 2 with 105 Hazaras on it," Mr Ghulam said.

"He asked if I had heard anything on the arrivals because he had had no news for quite some time."

Mr Ghulam said other Australian-based Hazaras who had learnt that their relatives were on the boat had become anxious.

Checks with the Department of Immigration and Customs and Border Protection had revealed nothing about the fate of the boat or those on board, Mr Ghulam said.

Contacts of the men had travelled to Indonesia and checked detention centres but had found no sign of them, he said.

"There was no news at all. The gentleman contacted me again and he had no news," Mr Ghulam said.

"He told me there were people who made inquiries, travelled to Indonesia, checked the detention centres et cetera and there is no sign of the 105 people."

Jack Smit of human rights group Project SafeCom Inc said it was important to know what happened to the boat and what happened during the voyage.

"If it was monitored by Indonesia on behalf of the Australian government, we need to know whether it was intercepted by Indonesian authorities," Mr Smit said.

"Conversely, if its voyage was monitored in Australian waters by Australian maritime and border protection authorities, we need to know what happened to the boat. If the boat perished, we need to hear that from the authorities."

A Department of Immigration spokeswoman said the department could not reveal the identities of asylum seekers being processed for their own protection.

But asylum seekers are granted access to telephones to contact their families on arrival, she said.

2011 AAP

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