On 19 October 2001, 146 children, 142 women and 65 men lost their lives when the small, grossly-overloaded Indonesian fishing boat, in which they were travelling, capsized and sank as they sought to flee persecution in their homelands and rebuild their lives in Australia.
Since the time of the sinking many questions have been raised about this tragedy which occurred in international waters between Indonesia and Australia’s Christmas Island, inside Australia’s border protection surveillance zone. Was there a relationship between the sinking and Australia’s People Smuggling Disruption Programme (PSDP) that was operating in Indonesia at the time the vessel foundered?
The questions and suspicions swirling around this disaster have been fuelled in part by the refusal of Australian authorities to release basic information about this tragedy. For example, more than two years have passed since the sinking and yet Australia’s Justice Minister and Australian Federal Police (AFP) have repeatedly refused to release the names of all the people who died on this boat, despite a number of requests from Australian Labor, Greens and Democrats Senators to do so! It seems the authorities are determined to prevent the public from empathising with the victims of this terrible disaster.
So frustrated have Senators become by the refusal of the AFP to release this information that recently, a motion was passed in the Senate, demanding that the AFP immediately release the list of the names of those who died and the identity of their sources.
It is hard to conceive of any other circumstance where the names of those who lost their lives in a major disaster could be withheld in this way. Pressure must be brought to bear on the Australian authorities to acknowledge the humanity of the people who died so tragically while trying to reach our shores.
What you can do
Visit the HopeCaravan website where you can compose a letter to the Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty and Justice Minister Senator Chris Ellison, demanding that they immediately release the names of those who died on the boat that has since become known as SIEVX, or post a message of condolence for the victims and survivors of the SIEVX tragedy at Jannah the SIEVX Memorial website.