53 Afghan Asylum Seekers Arrested in Thousand Islands

Source from Jakarta Globe, 27 July 2012

The Indonesian Navy arrested some Afghan 53 asylum seekers off the coast of Jakarta’s Thousand Islands last week, an immigration official said on Thursday.

The asylum seekers — who were reportedly heading to Australia’s Christmas Island — were arrested on July 20 as they transferred to a smaller boat for the rest of their trip, Ramdhani, an official with the Tanjung Priok immigration office, said.

“They were arrested by [the Navy’s Sea Security Officers] Satkamla on Friday last week at 12 a.m. in Untung Jawa island,” Ramdhani said. “Satkamla handed over the 53 illegal immigrants who did not have passports to Thousand Islands Police. We received them on Saturday.”

The asylum seekers have been detained in a hotel in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, under the guard of 16 officers after two of the immigrants allegedly tried to escape, Ramdhani said.

“On Sunday two of them ran away from the hotel at 3 a.m.,” Ramdhani said.

The two asylum seekers were still missing a week later, he said.

“We have been searching them with the North Jakarta police,” Ramdhani said. “They have been on the run for five days. Although they did not bring any money, their friends in Puncak, West Java could have supplied them [with money].”

To head off further escapes, the remaining asylum seekers will be transferred to the Immigration Office’s detention centers, Ramdhani said.

“We’re planning to move 30 of them to an immigration detention house in Manado [North Sulawesi], though it is still tentative,” he said. “The rest will be placed in Surabaya or also in Manado. We’re still planning it.”

On Wednesday, another boat, this one containing of 58 asylum seekers from Iran and Iraq, arrived in Indonesia. The boat sunk off the coast of Madura, leaving the asylum seekers were stranded in Goagoa Island. Local police plan to move the asylum seekers to a Surabaya detention center on Friday aboard a navy boat.

The boat’s captain had fled the scene at the time of the accident, but three members of the ship’s crew were still in Goagoa Island and will be questioned by police.

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