Asylum seeker dies without Indonesian medical aid

[TamilNet, Saturday, 26 December 2009, 18:11 GMT]
One of 250 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who have spent the past eleven weeks refusing to leave their boat in Indonesia has died after being denied medical help, Australian press reports said. The 29-year-old Tamil man died late Wednesday after falling ill several days earlier, AAP said. The group’s spokesman, Sanjeev "Alex" Kuhendrarajah, said the man had been vomiting blood for two days but authorities ignored his pleas to be taken to hospital until after he had a seizure on Wednesday night. Refugee advocates have called on the Australian government to intervene and bring the asylum seekers to Australia.

"He was completely neglected by the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) and the Indonesian Navy," Alex told AAP from the boat in the west Javan port of Merak.

"He was a young man looking for freedom, just looking for peace in his life.

"He had to die to find it."

The group was shocked and saddened by the death and would do everything in their power to bring a lawsuit against the IOM and Indonesian Navy, Alex said.

The Tamils, intercepted by the Indonesian Navy en route to Australia in October, do not want to come ashore because they fear they will be sent to an Indonesian detention centre and forced to wait years for resettlement.

Refugee advocates have called on the Australian government to intervene and bring the asylum seekers to Australia.

The Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul, who is currently in Indonesia, said it was unacceptable that the asylum seekers were being forced to "haggle" over access to medical care.

"It's an absolutely tragic death but it was also entirely avoidable," Rintoul said.

Australian intelligence helped Indonesian authorities intercept the boat so the Australian government was responsible for the group, Rintoul said.

"The Rudd government should be willing to take these people to Australia," he said.

 

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