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SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

by Jack H Smit

Project SafeCom

Today four years ago a boat on its way through the sometimes treacherous waters off the Indonesian coast sunk within the Australian Government's Search and Rescue Zone for ships in distress. Some people were rescued but not by the Australian authorities. Several people cancelled their plans to board the massively overcrowded vessel - and are alive today as a result. Three hundred and fifty-three people, mostly Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers, including 146 children, drowned.

The fact that many Australians today know about this massive maritime disaster can be largely attributed to Webdiarist Tony Kevin, who coined the phrase "SIEVX". Tony persistently raised questions around the sinking of the 19-metre vessel and any assumed and avoided government responsibilities around the disaster. It was his initial work,  with a small number of subscribers to his emailed notices, that kept the issue alive. One of those subscribers, Marg Hutton, has now gone on the record with her massive sievx.com internet archive of everything connected with the voyage, the sinking, the media reports and the aspects of the Senate Inquiry dealing with the SIEVX issue.

Tony Kevin's award winning book about this leaky boat, one of the many refugee boats given that Orwellian tag Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels (SIEV), A Certain Maritime Incident - the sinking of SIEV X, outlines all the issues.

Below is what Marg Hutton wrote last Monday on the SIEVX website - and following her remarks are comments from today's press releases from Democrats' Senator Andrew Bartlett, and myself. Readers may want to note from my press release that Howard still tries to tell Australians that his government was "exonerated" by the Senate Inquiry, as recently as two weeks ago in a letter to Robin Rothfield of Labor for Refugees VIC. He's still trying to spin the facts around SIEVX.

And the folks who are trying to get a memorial up on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, have been rebuffed by a Commonwealth veto. The ABC reported this week about the SIEVX Memorial Project facilitated by men's and children's issues author Steve Biddulph:

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says he is disappointed the Commonwealth Government has ruled out erecting a SIEV-X memorial on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. A group of artists had approached the Federal Government with the idea of building a memorial to the 353 asylum seekers who died when their boat sank in the Java Sea four years ago. Mr Stanhope says the memorial is more appropriate as a national, not a local, project.

Sievx.com's web mistress Marg Hutton writes this week on her website:

In the last twelve months hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been lost in the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the recent earthquake in India and Pakistan. So why four years after the event does the loss of 353 lives aboard an asylum-seeker vessel enroute to Australia's Christmas Island, still burn in our hearts?

SIEVX was not a 'natural' disaster...

If a government is in the business of both 'beefing up' disruption (ie increasing the danger in embarking on a people smuggler's boat) and scaling back SOLAS (ie providing second class maritime safety response to the boats of asylum seekers) then how can that government not have blood on its hands when a boat sinks and hundreds drown inside its border protection surveillance zone?

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett said today

The Australian Democrats today acknowledge the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X where the lives of 353 people were lost.

The SIEV-X incident is another reminder of the deliberate attempts by the Howard Government to mislead the Australian public.

The period around the time of the children overboard affair was one of cover ups, lies and a general disregard for human life and suffering, perpetuated by the Federal Government.

The Democrats were responsible for broadening the scope of the Select Committee Inquiry into a Certain Maritime Incident to investigate not only allegations made in 2001 by the Federal Government regarding children overboard, but also the detail of the expensive and inhumane Pacific Solution.

I met and spoke with husbands in Perth last year who lost their wives and children on the SIEV-X and was greatly saddened by their loss and the grief they continue to suffer.

The fact that they are still on TPVs and Bridging Visa E's only adds to their suffering and their inability to get on with rebuilding their lives.

In the light of promised rhetoric from the Government on a culture change in DIMIA, I repeat our call for TPVs to be abolished and for permanent visas to be given to refugees.

Take a moment to remember those three hundred and fifty-three people - fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandparents - our brothers and sisters in the human race - who perished. They needn't have.

Four years on, an "Aussie" missing boat sparks massive search

Project SafeCom Inc. Media Release, Wednesday October 19 2005 11:15am WST

Today, on the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the unknown refugee boat, dubbed SIEV-X by former diplomat Tony Kevin, a boat is once again missing in waters close to Australian maritime territory, but this time the missing boat has sparked a massive search, where thirteen planes, two choppers and two ships are frantically trying to locate four adults and one child since last Saturday.

This week's nervous but appropriate search for the missing Immigration Department vessel off Indonesia, not far from where SIEV-X disappeared four years ago, paints a cruel contrast with what many have seen as a shameful lack of action by the Australian Government in locating the refugee boat, perhaps even a deliberate avoidance of responsibilities, or perhaps even sabotage," WA Rights group Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit commented this morning, "and we are reminded of the discriminatory treatment of Australian search and rescue authorities when government department officers themselves are on the receiving end of a distress situation.

While the government was alerted about the possibility of the boat in distress, the Prime Minister lied about the SIEV to the Australian people, and using spin and manipulative statements, Houdini-ed himself out of the range of attacks.

Even a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister lied to the group Labor for Refugees in Victoria in a letter, in which he suggested that the government had been fully exonerated by the Senate at the conclusion of the Inquiry into the SIEV-X affair.

This government is far from exonerated. The then Senate leader John Faulkner in a most furious speech in the Senate, and elsewhere, vowed to pursue the unanswered questions and demanded that in future a judicial inquiry should take place into the SIEV-X disaster.

Like all disasters in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, the SIEV-X affair will not finish until all questions are answered, all documents held in secret by the Howard government are released, and all those who know things they have not told the Australian people, have been subpoenaed to testify and also tell the full and unabbreviated truth about the SIEV-X disaster.

Tonight the ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope will open the exhibition of designs for a national memorial for Siev X (suspected illegal entry vessel). Over the past two years, schools across Australia have been invited to design a memorial to the Siev X, and more than 200 entries will be on show despite the Acting Immigration Minister, John Cobb, saying the memorial would would not be supported by the federal government.

In memoriam...


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re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

The frightening thing for me is not only that it happened, but that so many people I know either couldn't care less, or will actually say, "They deserved it", or "They shouldn't have tried to get in", meaning "enter Australia illegally." They really, really don't care. I have to stifle my revulsion.

Unfortunately Howard and Ruddock have made it OK for Australians to express terrible racist views as the norm. He has divided this country as no other PM has ever done, and one day will be seen for what he's done. But at the moment, the jackboots prevail.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Like Jack some of us will not forget. Cannot forget. 146 children, 142 women and 65 men people just like us and they died under the Southern Cross. They could have lived to be fine Australians. The recipients of the inaugural SIEVX AWARDS have not forgotten them.


The website SIEVX.COM and AMAL BASRY, a survivor of the tragic sinking of SIEVX four years ago, have won the top SIEVX AWARDS 2005. These, the inaugural SIEVX AWARDS acknowledge the work and effort of organisations and people who have given freely of their time and expertise to honour those whose lives were lost and give comfort to those people whose lives have been cruelly altered by the tragedy of SIEVX.

How cruelly altered is our country when we cannot name recipients of an award for fear it may harm them professionally.

"THE JOURNALISTS in the mainstream media who placed morality and truth above their professional or political safety to write fearlessly about SIEVX. They know who they are and Australians owe them a great debt in these troubled times."

There will be no gala dinner, speeches, cash prizes fanfares or drum rolls for the SIEVX AWARDS. The recipients listed here will simply receive their award citation as an attachment to an email which they can frame and display if that is their wish.

The SIEVX AWARDS are an initiative of JANNAH THE SIEVX MEMORIAL details of the memorial follow the list of awards and recipients which appears below starting with the two major awards.


· Goes to SIEVX.COM in recognition of the most comprehensive and objective body of work. Unique, independent and scholarly, the sievx.com website is the virtual encyclopaedia of the tragedy of SIEVX. It is the only detailed archive on the subject. The sievx.com commentaries, such as 'SIEVX & the DFAT Cable: The Conspiracy of silence' provide primary research based on thorough investigation of carefully checked and footnoted material. Sievx.com has led the call for the release of the names of those who died.


· Goes to AMAL BASRY who believed she had survived the sinking of SIEVX because she had to bear witness and she has never lost sight of that responsibility. Each day she faces the demons that SIEVX left her with and gathers her strength to stand strong in the face of them. Her gift is communication and she moved hundreds to understand the lived experience of the SIEVX tragedy.


· SENATOR JOHN FAULKNER for his political oratory and intense questioning of witnesses at the CMI inquiry and in Senate Committees. Extract from Senator John Faulkner's 3 Short Speeches to the Senate ~ 23-25 September 2002:

“And what about the vessel now known as SIEVX, part of the people-smuggling operation of the notorious people smuggler Abu Quassey? That vessel set sail on 18 October 2001 and sank on 19 October 2001, drowning 353 people, including 142 women and 146 children. Were disruption activities directed against Abu Quassey? Did these involve SIEVX? I intend to keep asking questions until I find out. And, Mr Acting Deputy President, I intend to keep pressing for an independent judicial inquiry into these very serious matters. At no stage do I want to break, nor will I break, the protocols in relation to operational matters involving ASIS or the AFP. But, those protocols were not meant as a direct or an indirect licence to kill.”

· SENATOR BOB BROWN for tenacity and steadfastness in continuing to demand answers to fundamental questions about the sinking: ie. the names of those who drowned and the location where the tragedy occurred.

· SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT of the Democrats who in October 2003 with the support of the ALP and the Greens moved a motion which resulted in the Senate expressing regret and sympathy for the loss of the 353 people who were on their way to join family and loved ones waiting in Australia. It was an historic moment - the first motion of condolence for any asylum seeker in our country's recent history and it was ignored by the Australian media. Extract:

"It will be a day and a date I will always remember, because 19 October 2001, the day that all those children drowned, was the same day that my first and only daughter, Lillith, was born. She is, in my view, the most beautiful girl ever born - I apologise to everybody else who might have children, but that is just the way it is and to think that, at the same time that she was being born and all the wonder that goes with that, there were 146 children whose lives were about to end as they struggled in the water in such fear and terror. It is indeed a tragedy, and it is one that should be remembered."

· FORMER SENATOR JACINTA COLLINS for the hard work she did seeking the truth about SIEVX during and after the CMI Inquiry and in keeping the issue alive and trying to call the government to account.


· THE JOURNALISTS in the mainstream media who placed morality and truth above their professional or political safety to write fearlessly about SIEVX. They know who they are and Australians owe them a great debt in these troubled times.

· KEYSAR TRAD for translating the survivors’ accounts and providing an English transcript of a videotape that was made of the survivors of the SIEVX disaster at Bogor in the week following the wreck in October 2001. This translation was the key to understanding the terrible tragedy of SIEVX, life altering to those who read it and attracting all who later took up the cause of SIEVX.

· PROJECT SAFECOM and AUSNEWS who since the beginning have distributed news and information about SIEVX.

· TONY KEVIN for bringing the SIEVX issue before the Senate for investigation and for dedicating his retirement to SIEVX.

· THE SIEVX SCRIBES They were there from the moment they were aware of the sinking, before the doomed boat had a name. MARILYN SHEPHERD, KATE WILDERMUTH, KAY KAN, HELEN TAIT and many others are the scribes of SIEVX. They have worked individually and collectively to keep SIEVX in the public consciousness. In the letters pages and feedback columns of the media and on the internet they have taken on bullies, heroes, reporters and politicians. They have assisted writers with useful research. Many of them have not had a day off since October 2001.


· ASYLUM SEEKER RESOURCE CENTRE for the kindness and caring they have shown survivors and families of SIEVX who have needed their help. Since opening their doors in June 2001, the ASRC has become the largest provider of aid, advocacy and health services for asylum seekers in Australia. They work directly with asylum seekers, both living in our community and detention, to provide direct aid and support. They also campaign and lobby on behalf of asylum seekers and all Australians who want to change the unjust asylum seeker related policies that Australia has adopted. Most importantly, in times of despair and hopelessness, they offer comfort, friendship, hope and respite.

· KEN PARTRIDGE In Tasmania at the 2002 SIEVX Memorial, people strung lines of dedicated cards and brought flowers to Princes Park opposite Chalmers. Under great oaks they sheltered for readings, while rain squalls buffeted the little boat cards. Ken from the bell tower rang out a peal which began the people on a silent procession to Civic Square. 353 peals rang out. And Ken alone, counting on a hand held register, felt his heart rendered with the physical effort and the profundity of each toll.

· JAMES BOYCE and THE HOBART CITY COUNCIL. There is a special seat at a key point on a lovely and popular habourside nature walk to the Cornelian Bay cemetery. People can sit there and look out to sea remembering the 353 of SIEVX. James Boyce, a member of TasForRefugees wrote to the council [Hobart City Council] to get permission for the SIEVX memorial and the full council supported it. The Lord Mayor Rob Valentine has been especially supportive.

· SUE HOFFMAN and INDRA KAUR have both played a big part in helping bereaved family members of SIEVX victims living in Perth to set up the incorporated association Family of SIEVX, an initiative of husbands and fathers living in Australia who lost entire families when the boat sank. Sue deserves special mention, having helped raise funds for three bereaved men to attend the Brisbane trial of Khaleed Daoed, an alleged member of the Abu Quassey people smuggling syndicate. Sue also travelled with the men to offer support and assistance during their time in Brisbane. Because of this venture, it is very likely that Family of SIEVX Inc. will make contact with most of the SIEVX survivors scattered around the world in faraway countries such as Finland, Canada and Norway which will greatly assist the Association achieve its mission statement.

· STEVE BIDDULPH for his effort in attempting to establish a physical memorial to the SIEVX tragedy on Australian soil.


· KATE DURHAM for her Beauty and Cruelty exhibition which was dedicated to the courageous Amal Basry and featured a wall devoted to SIEVX covered with 130 small paintings of faces and bodies in the ocean. "People cannot connect emotionally to events if there are no pictures," says the artist and is determined to continue until she has painted all 353 people who drowned, no matter how long it takes.

· PAT HOFFIE for her installation entitled Drift, constructed as a memorial to those who died in the SIEVX. It consists of a large cardboard wedge built to the scale of the refugee boat, with wall drawings representing each individual it carried, contrasted with the anonymous, bureaucratic codename it was given.

· THOSE BLOODY MCKENNAS for their song about SIEVX - Time and Tide – online at sievx.com.

· MIA DYSON for her song about Sondos Ismael - 'Christmas Island' - online at sievx.com.


· CYNDY HIGGINS RICH for her indefatigable and unwavering support of SIEVX and as the United States co-ordinator of JANNAH THE SIEVX MEMORIAL.

· LES BLOUGH the Editor of the prestigious E-zine AXIS OF LOGIC for his unstinting support of SIEVX and JANNAH THE SIEVX MEMORIAL

· MARC PARENT the courageous Canadian internet human rights advocate who has done so much to get the story of SIEVX around the world. Publisher and editor of Crimes and Corruptions of the New World Order.

· MATT HAMON whose internet artistry, understanding of all things technical and compassion gave JANNAH THE SIEVX MEMORIAL it’s unique visual identity.

. LYNDA SMITH and ARIEL SMITH Lynda and her son Ariel have taken up the baton of JANNAH THE SIEVX MEMORIAL during difficult times.


On the 19th of October 2001, a tiny fishing boat bound for Australia, sank in international waters and 353 people died. Fearing death in their countries of birth they believed they would find freedom and peace in Australia. They believed in Australia. Family members awaited their arrival in Australia They were so close and they wanted to be Australian citizens. After Australia closed her borders that tiny doomed boat was their last and only hope.

This memorial is a place to acknowledge and remember the 353 precious lives that were lost to us in the tragedy. We can think of each of the 146 children, each of the 142 women and each man who died. We honour their lives and grieve their sad and terrifying passing. They were not numbers - they were people just like us - we should be told their names.

This is a place to offer sympathy to those who survived twenty horrific hours surrounded by death and expecting to die. Some saw their babies die and witnessed the last painful moments of their children, their husbands and their wives, their mothers and their fathers, their sisters and their brothers. Others separated from their families suffered alone not knowing what had become of them until much later. This is place to offer comfort to those who will never again see the face of those they loved or feel their touch.

JANNAH THE SIEVX MEMORIAL is dedicated to compassion and remembrance and the triumph of the human spirit.
You are welcome to add your tributes, thoughts or prayers for the people of SIEVX.



Mary Dagmar Davies ~ Founder


re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

They didn't deserve what happened to them, those that drowned on SIEV X.

However, I am still not able to see one iota of proof that the Australian Government or any sections thereof had any deliberate or malicious intent towards the vessel's sinking. And no real evidence of criminal negligence or failure to act responsibly to distress calls, or any of that. Nothing which has stood up in a court, nothing that has led back to any Australian department, or segment thereof. Not one whistleblower stepping forward from any department (on the wild assumption that an Australian department/s actually were involved in either sinking the vessel or other sabotage which endangered those on board, or deliberately stalled or stopped any Australian response to the tragedy) in all of this time.

Peter Croft, most people do care, but most people aren't obsessed after this amount of time. After all this time, there is no metaphorical smoking gun, hell, there is no metaphorical proof of gunshot wounds for that matter, really. Just speculation. The Senate enquiry didn't come up with anything. Nobody has stepped forward with anything to back up these conspiracy theories. Most reasonable people would say that it was a tragedy, but there is no culpability upon our part. Or at least that is how I would see it.

By the by, what are these 'terrible racist views'? Looking at your statements, they seem to indicate a contempt for illegal immigrants in general, not race specific traits or bias. Of course, it could just be bad wording.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Stuart Lord: "Nothing which has stood up in a court..."

Disturbing isn't it. Soon suspicion of terrorism will be enough - no court required.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

There's also a good Webdiary SIEV-X archive here. Plenty of background reading.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

I'm writing this in an internet cafe in the Iraqi quarter of Damascus in Syria, where I'm staying for a few weeks at the invitation of one of the Perth-based Iraqi men who lost his wife, kids and 10 other family members when SIEV X went down. (Those who know me know who I mean but he's asked not be identified.)This area – Sayder Zeneb – houses over two million Iraqi refugees.

Many of the SIEV X dead stayed here after fleeing Saddam and it is here in Sayder Zeneb six years ago he last saw his wife and kids. He lived with them in a unit a couple of minutes walk from where I am now staying with him, his mum and two of his brothers. Revisiting this place is unbelievably painful for him - too personal for me to say more.

His mum and brothers have come out of Iraq to Sayder Zeneb to meet with him. They've told me how this community mourned, and how they mourned in Iraq in October 2001.

As a Temporary Protection Visa holder, he has been unable to visit family overseas for six years. This enforced separation would be hard for anyone but is unbelievably cruel for a man who has lost so much. Now he has finally received Permanent Protection and is able to travel, a huge load has been lifted.

They call it the Iraqi Titanic...

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

The liberation of Afganistan and Iraq from the Taliban and Saddam has enabled hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to these countries, instead of having to risk their lives by fleeing abroad.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Peter Croft, are you on the same planet as the rest of us? You talk about division, just cast your mind back to Keating.

It astounds me that there is still so much left vilification of this country over this boating tragedy. Irrespective of how twisted views are, the fact is the nearest Australia warship was at least 19 hours away and this alleged search area that we had responsibility for was I suspect, around 100 miles from Indonesia and a hell of a lot further from Australian territory. I suppose since we have John Howard as PM, the next lot of Chinese clam pickers who die on the west coats of the UK can also be slated to him.

Get a life you people and stop vilifying decent Australia servicemen who do more for this country in one deployment than some of you do in a lifetime!

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Congratulations Jack Smit, Tony Kevin and Mary Dagmar Davies for your dedication and persistence in exposing this most shameful chapter in Australia's history. Eventually those responsible for the policies which lead to this disaster will be held to account.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Oh Lord!

"Nothing which has stood up in a court" ... What court Mr Lord? There has not been so much as an inquest. Surely you would expect when 353 people die under the Southern Cross an inquest would be in order.

"The Senate enquiry didn't come up with anything"? Weeell a lot of public servants did not appear at the Senate Inquiry did they? So hard to come up with solid stuff when those with the info have run for the hills. Everyone who was conveniently AWOL needs to be interviewed.

Frankly, I would like someone to sit down for a very long time with PETER REITH and find out exactly what happened on his watch. Why haven't the press been on his tail?

Smoking gun? Who needs a smoking gun when you have a leaky overloaded boat with no workable pumps?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Interestingly, another memorial has a been approved for the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Brisbane's Courier Mail (21-06-05) reported that distinguished architect Liam Proberts is to plan a national monument commemorating the ordinary nature of police who do extraordinary things – ie, police who die in the course of their work.

Proberts, son of well-known and ebullient Brisbane detective, the late Fred “Bomber” Proberts, said he was “humbled and honoured” to win the national competition selecting his firm.

Peter immemorial Fred Woodforde

DISCLOSURE: Liam Proberts and Jack Woodforde are first cousins. They have not met or talked since an aunt’s funeral some years ago.

Jack did not attend Bomber’s funeral, through ill-health. At least one of his sisters did so.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

A simple ceremony was held in the Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne yesterday where SIEV X mourners remembered the nameless dead.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

I am moved by the high media and internet attention that the SIEV X tragedy (I refuse to call it an “incident” as did John Howard’s official letter-writer) is receiving on the 4th anniversary of the sinking. And thank you, Webdiary, for publishing Jack Smit‘s passionate and excellent piece with so many useful links, and to Mary Dagmar Davies for her fine listing of SIEV X awards.

What‘s remarkable from reading these two listings is how widely and firmly the SIEV X history is extending into the Australian community despite all of John Howard‘s efforts to render it a forgotten minor footnote to his border protection war on asylum-seekers in October 2001 that improperly won him that election at such a terrible cost in human misery and human lives. The true history will prevail despite the Howard camp‘s efforts to falsify and bury it.

I was also deeply affected by Sue Hoffman‘s letter from Damascus. That is a document of great weight and historical significance.

I am going to respond to Stuart Lord, because someone has to. Not to his racism red herrings - please, Webdiarists of all viewpoints, ignore those - don’t let this thread be buried in another endless oft-repeated argument about the question of racism in Australia that will submerge what Jack Smit and Mary Dagmar Davies are trying to draw attention to. (Incidentally, I had no prior knowledge before today of either piece).

I’ll focus on Stuart‘s commentary directed to the SIEV X issue. I doubt he has read my book. I‘m sure he has read or been briefed on a government hymn sheet of debating points to use about SIEV X. I see a family resemblance to previous hostile commentaries on my book by Gerard Henderson, Tom Frame and Jennifer Clarke (the latter two reviews, and my responses, are on my website: the Gerard Henderson correspondence with me on SIEV X is in his Sydney Institute magazine “Media Watch“. I’ll put it up on my website when I have time).

SL: “I am still not able to see one iota of proof that the Australian Government or any sections thereof had any deliberate or malicious intent towards the vessel's sinking“.

No serious SIEV X analyst has ever accused the Australian Government nor any sections thereof of “deliberate or malicious intent“. I have consistently argued and still do argue that the range of possibilities lies between a best-case scenario of Australian government agencies’ negligence, possibly criminal negligence, of their safety of life at sea obligations in the Australian Operation Relex zone where they had a legal (and now admitted by Howard) duty of care to all mariners, and a worst-case scenario of Australian government agencies’ criminal complicity by commission or omission in an act of terrorism by unknown agencies in Indonesia that disrupted the SIEV X voyage, leading to great loss of life.

There can be no dispute now about the facts that this overloaded unseaworthy vessel finally sank in the Australian Operation Relex surveillance and interception zone, some 33 hours after it embarked from Bandar Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia - a 19.5 metre long leaking boat with 421 people criminally crammed on board by Abu Quassey and 30 assisting Indonesian armed uniformed police, in the final stages by force.

The issues that go to Australian government agency conduct are what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. As my book shows, the Senate Committee did not get full or truthful answers to those questions from any testifying Australian government agency. Under oath, they all either lied, or dissembled, or refused to answer Senators’ questions.

Until there is an independent full-powers judicial enquiry that the Senate has three times called for in 2002-2004, with power to send to prison official witnesses who perjure or refuse to answer the court’s questions, it will not be possible to establish where the truth lies within my above stated range of limiting possibilities.

Australian agency innocence is not a possibility now - there has been too much deliberate cover-up for that to be possible. The only question now is as to the degree of agency culpability, and it will take a judicial enquiry with full court powers to get the truth on that.

SL: “And no real evidence of criminal negligence or failure to act responsibly to distress calls, or any of that.“

No, because no proper judicial or even coronial inquiry has been held. As my book and Marg Hutton‘s massive website archive and commentaries make clear, the Senate CMI committee was not a court and it simply did not have the powers to fully investigate these matters. It opened up a great many smoking guns but it could not examine the issue to a proper judicial conclusion.

SL: “Nothing which has stood up in a court, nothing that has led back to any Australian department, or segment thereof.“

No, because a succession of official witnesses lied to, misled or refused to answer the Committee Senators‘ questions. My book is full of examples of this. There has not yet been a court process into the sinking of SIEV X and unanswered questions about the Australian Government’s people smuggling disruption program in Indonesia. Read Faulkner’s extraordinarily powerful Senate statements on this on 23-26 September 2002, all on sievx.com. The first recommendation of the Senate CMI Committee, referred to by Senator Cook in his Chairman’s foreword, was that an independent inquiry is necessary to ascertain what occurred on disruption activities in Indonesia and other issues related to SIEV X.

(And see other sievx.com extracts from Committee report, and see Executive Summary of CMI Report, on Parliament website.)

The Senate has passed three subsequent motions in 2002, 2003 and 2004 calling for such an inquiry. The government never responded to the Senate. This is a disgraceful insult to the Senate.

SL: “Not one whistleblower stepping forward from any department (on the wild assumption that an Australian department/s actually were involved in either sinking the vessel or other sabotage which endangered those on board, or deliberately stalled or stopped any Australian response to the tragedy) in all of this time“.

No, because they are all too intimidated or constrained by their service secrecy oaths to break confidentiality. Read Howard‘s latest shameless spin on SIEV X (linked in Jack Smit’s posting above). What senior public servant or ADF or AFP officer would dare to defy that, if he/she has a family to keep and a mortgage to pay? Look what happened to Andrew Wilkie, Lance Collins, Martin Toohey … it is very hard in Australia today to be a whistleblower. But there will be one, one day - I am sure of this. Sooner or later, someone’s moral conscience will prevail over their natural instincts of service loyalty and family obligations. It will be a hard choice and whoever first breaks the wall of official silence on SIEV X will be a hero. They will quite probably spend time in jail but so did Nelson Mandela, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Xanana Gusmao - they will be in good moral company.

SL: “After all this time, there is no metaphorical smoking gun, hell, there is no metaphorical proof of gunshot wounds for that matter, really. Just speculation. The Senate enquiry didn't come up with anything. Nobody has stepped forward with anything to back up these conspiracy theories. Most reasonable people would say that it was a tragedy, but there is no culpability upon our part.“

Nonsense. Read my book. Browse Marg Hutton‘s website. There are now so many smoking guns, touching on the conduct of every Australian government agency involved in the history. As argued above, there is now no possibility of Australian agency innocence here.

That possibility was left behind long ago, when Robert Hill submitted to the Senate CMI Committee the untrue and misleading report and surveillance flight maps and data prepared by the Defence Taskforce into SIEV X Intelligence in July 2002.

As Marg Hutton proved in her masterly paper in 2003, that report was full of lies and omissions of essential facts that should have been made known to the Senate at that time. It constructed an entirely false case that it was not possible to know where SIEV X sank, when it was already clear from data known to official agencies at the time that SIEV X had sunk in the Operation Relex surveillance and interception zone. The issue now as argued above is as to the degree of Australian agency culpability in the sinking of SIEV X.

Finally, I also think it is timely, as a reminder of what was happening generally around the time of Operation Relex’s peak border protection efforts in September-October 2001, to reference here my letter to the Australian Book Review in August in response to Craig Sherborne’s critical review of Hannie Rayson’s brilliant play, “Two Brothers”, a fictional drama inspired by the SIEV X tragedy and that was applauded by large mainstream theatre audiences in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. The Howard camp must have been quite perturbed by this play’s popular reception and audience appeal. A raft of critics savaged it. Sherborne argued that Rayson should have stuck to the facts about SIEV X which were, he claimed, that the government and its agencies had been fully exonerated by the Senate Committee. I reminded ABR readers of salient facts about the whole Operation Relex operation during which period SIEV X sank.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

All, the fact remains the Senate Inquiry did not come up with anything.

The boat was boarded in a foreign country. It sank in International waters.
Yes these waters were our responsibility to rescue people in need. There is no evidence that Australia when aware of the sinking did nothing. There is no evidence Australian personnel turned a blind eye. There is no evidence of Australian personnel loading the boat.

Mary says, “Who needs a smoking gun when you have a leaky overloaded boat with no workable pumps?”

That Mary is Indonesians' problem. Its like saying Mary that if we allowed a boat to leave Darwin harbor bound for Indonesia, that had too many people on it and no pumps, that it is the responsibility of the Indonesian government even BEFORE it hits Indonesian waters.

You lot are SO OBVIOUSLY on a Howard Government beat up its bloody embarrassing.

It’s why the SIEV X anniversary passes without mention. It’s because the Australian Government and Defense forces did NOTHING WRONG. A human Tragedy, absolutely. Do we want it to happen again? Never. Have we put in place policies to stop it happening again (this will get you lefties going!)? Yes, the Pacific Solution has stopped the flow of boats.

You want another indication of even the quasi left's interest, and hence suspicion of Government involvement? Since Monday the “workplace relations” thread has had 300 posts. If there was such a thought of grand conspiracy in relation to this subject I would expect it to have more than 10 posts in two days.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

TT - and Jay, you both disgust me beyond belief. Both utterly devoid of human feeling.

If you have not one decent thing to say about one other person on earth why do you bother to say anything at all?

146 children, 142 women and 65 died without cause and for the record there were three ships in the water watching these people die.

Who were they and why didn't they help is more to the point surely than ranting about Paul Keating?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Stuart Lord: survivors report that two large boats came by long before the final rescue, shone their lights on the drowning people, and then did nothing. The survivors were apparently told by their eventual Indonesian rescuers that these were Australian border patrol boats. If that's not a smoking gun, what is? 146 children. 142 women. 62 men.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Surely an exaggeration T Tazman: "stop vilifying decent Australia servicemen who do more for this country in one deployment than some of you do in a lifetime!"

We admire our serviceman but I think you are a bit overboard with that statement. And if you read all the SIEV X material thoroughly I think you will find it isn't the serviceman who are being villified.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

J Wilshaw, you say the Pacific solution has stopped the flow of boats. Is that necessarily true? Is it possible that the overthrow of certain regimes may have stopped the boats? Is it possible that closer cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian govts may have had an impact? BTW any phone tapping yet?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

J Wilshaw: "'workplace relations' thread has had 300 posts If there was such a thought of grand conspiracy in relation to this subject I would expect it to have more than 10 posts in two days."

Hello, JW. I guess that might have something to do with the fact that,
a. 90% of the Australian population know nothing about the SIEV X (ever heard of media censorship, JW?);
b. People care more about their wages and jobs than they do about a bunch of "queue jumping", "subhuman" "potential terrorists" (ever heard of propaganda, JW?);
C. how many people "care" about an issue is not a barometer of right and wrong, or of truth.

I believe if it was simply a matter of how many people cared, Aboriginals still would not have the right to vote in this country.

I suspect very few Germans between 1933-1945 gave two hoots about the "enemy" Jews and communists being dragged away in the middle of the night, either. Actually, by all accounts they were pretty thrilled to seize their vacated jobs, houses and assets and continue with their merry Christmases.

How many people "care" probably has more to do with how many people are susceptible to media spin and brainwashing... and perhaps on a less palatable note, how morally bankrupt they are.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Stuart Lord, you have your name up the top of the Webdiary page so I assume you are a Webdiary journalist.

Did you know that the Australian Press Council has issued an adjudication here that says, "'illegal immigrants' was an incorrect description of the asylum seekers and conceded that it should have used its preferred term 'asylum seekers'."

And a guideline here that says, "The problem with the use of terms such as 'illegal refugee' and 'illegal asylum seeker' is that they are often inaccurate and may be derogatory.

"The Council cautions the press to be careful in the use of such unqualified terms in reports and headlines."

I would have thought someone in your profession would be more careful and accurate and would refer to such people by their Government term: "unlawful non-citizens" or the press preferred term "asylum seekers". Thank you.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Marilyn, you say I am devoid of human feeling? That’s a strange comment coming from someone who espouses hysterical compassion for her hobby horse, alleged refugees, whilst at the same time, time and again, writes the most vicious comments about those who do not share your skewed view of the world. Would you like me to paste some of your humane comments? Remember your hysterical assertions about that Pakistani family of fake refugees who cost this country over a million in legal fees (most of which no doubt ended up in compassionate refugee advocates pockets), what do you say now that the sons have admitted lying all along? Yes we hear little from you on that certain family these days.

Jane McIntyre, a little bit of knowledge would save you and your smoking gun from making silly comments. Just look where the overcrowded boat left from, average its speed – 4 to 5 knots by the hours it was going and then tell me that it was in our area of responsibility ie, along the coastline of Indonesia. For your information, the Fremantle Class patrol boats are not capable of patrolling 1,000 klms from base – and that’s where the alleged sighting took place. Perhaps the patrol boats were Indonesian? Maybe, just maybe if they existed, they were Indonesian after all, they were in reality, in Indonesia.

Robin Rothfield, can you elaborate as to what this shameful chapter in our history was?

Tony Kevin, writing masses of words on this subject does not confirm that you have any facts supporting your absurd allegations. I’m aware of the nonsense you wrote about the RAAF helicopters buzzing your house, and your overall anti-Howard stance but to make matters simple, please post the miles from Australia (and Australia’s search capability), for the most recent search for lost locals you falsely assert equates to SX and the disparity in Government effort between the two.

As someone a lot closer to the RAN than Kevin, firstly it would be impossible to withhold any sort of underhand information from the public for this long. Had any RAN member been involved in any sort of adverse activity with SX, it would have surfaced a long time ago, you can’t keep over 200 people quiet for ever. The second point is, no RAN ship would ever leave any vessel in distress or indeed, people in the water. Once ships are at sea, the Captain also has international maritime obligations which, in the case of other seafarers in distress, would override whatever orders the ship had. In any event, there would never been orders issued that stopped any RAN ship from assisting and picking people in distress on the open sea. There are numerous examples where our ships have assisted and rescued such people. To suggest otherwise is to have no maritime knowledge and contempt for the RAN. Politicians do not direct what ships can and can’t do in emergencies.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Michael de Angelos, I have followed this boating tragedy from the start. There is no doubt that Kevin et al initially inferred that the RAN failed to rescue these souls. When no evidence could be found, the allegation shifted but with a proviso that maybe those two patrol boats were ours. It’s easy to smear but I would have respect for Kevin et al, if they made direct statements accusing specific people. Of course that won’t happen because they will get sued. So much for their facts. There is nothing lower than smearing your opponents, and the country as a whole.

This saga has little to do with compassion or those lost and everything to do with smearing Howard and his Australia.

A little understanding of maritime matters, distances and actual difficulties locating anything at sea, would not produce all this left wing hysteria. Just days ago we had three fishing boats caught on our North-West coast. Even with all the planes and patrol boats, customs activity, they still seemed to slip through without difficulty. I wonder how much harder it is trying to find something that small 1,000 klms further West?

Finally, let’s be honest. Marr and Wilkinson set out to shaft the Howard government with their book. I suppose we have to conclude they failed.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Jane and Marilyn, there is NO EVIDENCE of two large boats shinning the lights then leaving.

Even SIEV X.com does not make the claim that Australian Navy boats intercepted the ships and did nothing while people drowned. If it does please direct me to the spot.

Let's stick to facts hey.

Jane, my other point is this: Webdiary is a left leaning site. Surely on a left leaning site even moderate lefties would jump all over this. They haven’t. Because there is nothing here.

Sean, I heard a strange click in the background the other night. So I put the wife on and told her to talk about the O.C for a few hours. This is even more painful than desperate housewives. This will discourage those damn ASIO hacks.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Jack H Smitt, your name is on the bottom of the intro of this thread and your name is included in the media release titled, "Four years on, an 'Aussie' missing boat sparks massive search" (19-10-5), so I assume that you had a hand in the contents of that release and intro.

To try and equate the latest boat search with the Siev-X is totally madness. You say the later search is "off Indonesia" and "not far from where the Siev-X dissappeared."

The Siev-X was making for Christmas Island and the latest search is right at the tip of Cape York. A quick glance at a kids atlas shows the two to be about 4000kls apart.

Every picture of the boats coming here is one of an imminent disaster. One does not need to have naval experience to see that. I would not let my wife and kids on board in dry dock. The Siev-X was a tragedy but no more or no less than other inter-island ferry losses or train/plane smashes that occur from time to time. We feel sorry and the best we can do is to ensure that such happenings do not occur, as best we can, on our patch.

I recall, the Tampa picked up survivors from a sinking overcrowded vessel. Now if Tampa had, instead of being hijacked, continued to Indonesia as was intended, then the story of those 400 odd survivors may just have stopped the Siev-X from starting out. I reckon it is the story of the Siev-x survivors that finally put a stop to boat people.

People can believe what they like but a cause is not helped by wild conspiracy claims about AFP herding people on board with guns, of sabotage by our agents or press releases of utter bulls**t.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Here's a new article from Sievx.com about the sinking location of SIEV-X and about the fact that, contrary to some comments made earlier in response to my article - that SIEV-X did NOT sink within the area our Navy (ie Operation Relex) has search responsibity, it did sink in this area.

ADA Director Speaks Out On Sinking Location

by Marg Hutton
21 October 2005

In a letter in today's Age, the Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association, Neil James, rebuts claims made in the newspaper yesterday that the Navy bears some responsibility for the SIEVX tragedy.

The curious thing about James' letter is that while he states that SIEVX went down in 'Indonesian waters' he actually gives a location - ie 'about 70 kilometres south of Java' - which is in international waters and within the Operation Relex border protection surveillance zone! This figure is similar to one Don Greenlees gave in an article in the Australian back in 2001 soon after the sinking.

Earlier this year we had Ministers Vanstone and Ellison making public statements (which they later retracted) that SIEVX sank in 'international waters'. Now we have the Executive Director of a Defence watchdog organisation saying the same thing. Government Ministers and Directors of organisations associated with Australian Defence don't pull figures out of thin air. It is apparent that far from the sinking position being 'unknown' and at best 'speculative' as claimed by the Defence Review of Intelligence on SIEVX, there exists authoritative data held by the government (persuasive enough to initially convince Ellison, Vanstone and James of its provenance) that shows that SIEVX sank exactly where we claim it sank - inside the Operation Relex surveillance zone.

It will be interesting to see if Neil James follows Vanstone and Ellison's lead and retracts or amends his statement regarding the sinking location.


re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

You lot just don't get it

We have a responsibility for that area of conducting Search and Rescue, WHEN NOTIFIED A CRAFT IS IN PERIL.

There is no evidence that Navy personnel knew a craft was in peril and did nothing. Their is no evidence that Defence or the government knew a craft was in peril and did nothing.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

J Wilshaw wrote:

[T]here is NO EVIDENCE of two large boats shinning the lights then leaving.

Even SIEV X.com does not make the claim that Australian Navy boats intercepted the ships and did nothing while people drowned. If it does please direct me to the spot.

Let's stick to facts hey.

OK JW, I'll bite...

You are absolutely right that sievx.com does not claim that the Navy intercepted SIEVX and did nothing while people drowned. I do not believe that our Navy would knowingly stand by while hundreds of children, women and men desperately struggled to stay afloat and slowly drowned before their eyes.

However, I must disagree with your first claim that there is no evidence of vessels being in the vicinity of the wreck some hours after the boat sank as claimed by the SIEVX survivors. There is evidence within the government's own data - ie the RAAF surveillance maps submitted to the CMI committee - that there was at least one ship close to the likely position where the SIEVX survivors had drifted to on the evening that the boat went down. (See this article for details.)

There is no doubt that the survivors saw these ship/s, but whether these vessels actually saw the survivors is in my opinion by no means proven. The survivors would have been very small in the water; there was a storm and it was dark...

I personally don't believe these vessels were Australian. However, my personal beliefs are irrelevant. I don't understand how our government can continue to let these claims and suspicions swirl around SIEVX without thoroughly investigating the matter. A judicial inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of the SIEVX tragedy...

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

For whatever reason this has become a dead issue to most Australians. Unfortunately there has been very little compelling evidence to suggest any Australian involvement and it has become increasingly difficult to hang this around Howard's neck as we would like.

I think we need to move on to issues that have more traction. There are plenty of real issues that this horrible government is involved in such as that poor Vivian lady and all the stuff they are doing to Aboriginals. For God's sake they are spying on their own citizens with helicopters!

Stick to the facts folks. We risk looking silly if we hang our hat on conspiracy theories all the time.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Neil Emerton the bloody TAMPA was not hijacked. What part of that don't you understand yet? How on earth could it be hijacked by half dead Afghans?

And it was not seaworthy to travel to Indonesia and was 12 hours closer to Christmas Island than to Indonesia who had already told our government they would not let them land.

How the hell can these myths, lies and fantasies be allowed to be repeated for years after the truth is known? Are you on another planet?

The facts are clearly outlined in the senate committee into the children overboard transcripts and in Marr and Wilkinson's Dark Victory.

You need to ask yourself what sort of deranged creature feels the need to continue to demonize innocent people who at the beginning and end of the madness were simply refugees from Afghanistan exercising their right under our law to come to Australia and seek protection.

And don't come back to me with the b..t about they could have stayed in Indonesia - that yarn is so old it has whiskers on it.

Please ask yourself why on earth you need to be so cruel and to continue a lie?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

"There is nothing lower than smearing your opponents". But isn't that what you are doing T.Tazman ?. It seems fairly common for those on the right to be full of righteous indignation when an unfavorable comment is made about their hero John Howard yet they feel no irony when they voice back similar comments to his opponents.

I suggest then you are just not getting the gist of what the main complaints about this idealogue are. Howard has appropriated most government departments including the armed forces into extensions of his political aims. Despite that all ministries and the services are still staffed with genuine hard working personnel who abhor this man's actions.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

I know the yarn has whiskers on it, but why, exactly, didn't they stay in Indonesia? They were safe, at least from religious persecution in the world's biggest Muslim country.

Safer than setting out to sea, children and all, in a leaky boat.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

J Wilshaw, "You lot just don't get it

Thank you for the admission.

Howard said in a radio interview shortly after the sinking that the boat sank in Indonesian waters. And he said it vehemently and repeatedly. Later, after evidence appeared that the boat did sink in international waters he not only failed to correct the record but refused to answer questions on the matter, such as Margo's "What information were you basing your claim that the boat sank in Indonesian waters". (or words to that effect).

If he can provide one answer so strenuously, then he should provide the correct one when the information is available.

So why the refusal to be honest about the place the boat sank?

The boat did sink, according to a number of accounts, inside the Operation Relex surveillance zone. The government made great play on the effective of this surveillance yet failed to detect a sinking boat. Perhaps the answer to the above question lies there, ie., oops we were not as efficient as we claimed we were.

Perhaps thery did not want to take any responsibility towards survivors that might undermine the border protection policy.

On the matter of Australian involvement, there was the disruption program in Indonesia. Could overzealousness of operatives acting under this program have been a contributing factor?

These are just some of the questions needing answers yet the government has been averse to providing an opportunity for these matter to be examined, not even an inquest.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

So why the refusal to be honest about the place the boat sank? Probably Bob because no one is sure where the boat sank. SIEV X positioning is based on an assessment of the tides!

The original thoughts relating to its sinking place was that it had sunk in Indonesian Waters. This was revised when it became apparent that it had sunk just inside Operation Relex’s search zone.

Why the refusal to be specific? Probably because no one knows precisely where it sank. I would think rather than definitely saying if it sank here or there you would want the Prime Minister to be specific.

“The government made great play on the effective of this surveillance yet failed to detect a sinking boat.”

The RAAF did detect the boat. At the time it was outside of their Zone, and still in Indonesian waters. See this link at SIEVX.com.

The simple fact is Bob, radar, as far as im aware returns an echo of a ship. It cannot differentiate between a boat that is sinking or a boat that is ok. The radar cross section may change and reduce the size of the boat. But no operator would be able to tell that.

Regardless, there was no radar images of SIEV X when it was sinking. Then we would know where it sunk wouldn’t we?

Marilyn, you have an interesting selective memory of facts:

“Neil Emerton the bloody TAMPA was not hijacked. What part of that don't you understand yet? How on earth could it be hijacked by half dead Afghans?

"And it was not seaworthy to travel to Indonesia and was 12 hours closer to Christmas Island than to Indonesia who had already told our government they would not let them land.”

Marilyn it is a well documented fact that on BBC world news Captain Rinnan said this:

"The people were largely in good shape, there was only one injured, with a broken leg. Once we had them all onboard, we set sail towards the Sunda strait [in Indonesia].

"Then a delegation of five men came up to the bridge. They behaved aggressively, and told us they would not go back to Indonesia. They made us worried for everybody's safety, they told us they had nothing to lose.“

They don’t sound half dead, the captain set sail for INDONESIA. The Five men appeared on the bridge and made the captain fear for his safety. They told him they had nothing to lose.

Marilyn, sounds like a Hijacking.

You were not there.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Marg Hutton: “A judicial inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of the SIEVX tragedy...”

As I understand it:

1. An unseaworthy fishing boat left an Indonesian port grossly overloaded with passengers intent on traveling to the Australian territory of Christmas Island, (although the destination planned may have originally been the Australian mainland) where they intended to claim asylum as refugees.

2. There is evidence that a number of the passengers were coerced onto the boat by threats at gunpoint from Indonesian police.

3. There is evidence that the passengers were aware of the hazardous condition of the boat but that they could have left the boat after it left port. 23 of them disembarked onto an island in Indonesian territorial waters. The other passengers chose not to do so but instead recklessly chose to continue their voyage to Christmas Island.

4. The boat foundered in the ocean swell somewhere in international waters off Indonesia. The distance off the Indonesian coast is undetermined but may be as close as 70 kilometres (Tony Kevin suggests 80kms). The boat was within Indonesia’s maritime search and rescue zone.

5. The boat was at no time within Australian territorial waters or maritime search and rescue zone.

6. There is no evidence of any Australian involvement in arranging for the embarkation of the passengers.

7. While there is evidence of Australian awareness of the departure of the boat from its Indonesian port in southern Sumatra there is no evidence of Australian awareness of its entry into international waters, or that it was in distress or that it was foundering.

8. There is no reliable evidence that Australian naval vessels were anywhere near the boat when it foundered or that they could have taken any action to assist its passengers as it was foundering.

I agree with you. There needs to be a judicial enquiry. It should be conducted by the Indonesian judiciary. The inquiry should look into the people-smuggling racket, which could not have occurred on their soil without the connivance of Indonesian officials, into the overloading of an unseaworthy boat to hazardous levels, into the failure of Indonesian officials to stop the boat from leaving port, let alone their territorial waters, their failure to monitor the boat’s progress, their failure to render prompt assistance when it got into distress, their failure to dispatch naval vessels to rescue the passengers after the boat sank and above all into the role of Indonesian officials of coercing passengers onto the boat at gunpoint.

I cannot see, however, that there is any basis for an Australian judicial inquiry into an event that occurred outside Australian territorial waters to people for whom we had no more responsibility than we would to any Indonesian fishing vessel which foundered while fishing off Indonesia’s coast. Properly conducted any such inquiry would have to look at issues properly covered by an Indonesian inquiry and would infringe Indonesian sovereignty.

As to a SIEVX memorial in Canberra, the victims of that tragedy are no more deserving of a memorial than the thousands of other would-be migrants to Australia who drowned when their ships sank in storms while travelling from Europe in the 19th century or the thousands of refugees from Vietnam who drowned in the South China Sea as they escaped from the Communist take-over of their country at ther end of the Vietnam War.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Regarding how the Siev-X sank, I regret very much that I did not note the details of an interview I listened to on Radio National about a year ago when an Australian Government 'Operative' did blow a little whistle about why so many of the boats sank on the way from Indonesia to Australia - and it wasn't just that they were overloaded...

This gentleman admitted to taking part in secret operations, in collaboration with Indonesian 'Operatives' , which involved drilling holes in the bottoms of several people smuggling vessels - not all the way through, but far enough so that once out at sea and under stress, they would break right through and cause the boats to sink.

I can assure everyone I am not making this up, and will try to find out what the program was and who the person being interviewed was, as I think it is crucial evidence as to the Government's involvement in this sordid affair.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

An overdue notice was sent out on 20 October 2001. How does one send out an overdue notice if they don't know the boat has left Indonesia?

An AFP constable, Kylie Pratt, rang Canberra on the same day to say the boat was overloaded and in danger of sinking.

David, which part of Indonesia would you call safe and secure for any old muslim considering most of the people on that boat were shi'ites in a country of sunnis?

Indonesia have not signed or ratified the refugee convention and therefore was allowed to and did send people home to be tortured.

What if 146 pretty white children had been murdered in the manner these children were by someone the AFP and ASIO were well aware of for over a year and did nothing to stop him? Even when they could have brought him for trial they didn't bother and they didn't bother to send details to the Egyptian courts when Quessay was sentenced to less than 1 weeks jail for each death.

If 142 pretty white mums had been murdered by Quessay trying to reach their husbands would you give a toss about them? Would you demand what we want - an inquest into the circumstances of the deaths of 353 innocent men, women and children?

Why is the bleat that they should have stayed somewhere, anywhere but here, even rational any more? They died under the most horrendous of circumstances after escaping the horrors of Saddam Hussein.

They were not criminals. Not murderers or thieves or rapists. They were just refugees. With families who love them still.

It puts me in mind of Sting's ironic and iconic song - "The Russians love their children too", so do the Iraqi people.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Well the mosquitoes are biting thick and fast on this thread now! I will stay within the Webdiary code and not become personally abusive. Gentlemen (I think you are all men, and this critical post is of course directed to the recently posting SIEV X sceptics), what part of the following don’t you understand?

Wives and children on SIEV X were desperate to rejoin their husbands and fathers in Australia who had been given refugee TPVs here years before, but could not legally bring their families here because of punitive provisions in those TPVs. Our Parliament in passing those laws violated the basic human right of all families not to be kept apart by the state. Refugees have that human right too. To say they were “safe” in Indonesia as Muslims is heartless, irrelevant - and untrue as well, they were subject to regular harassment and extortion.

For two years 2000-2001, AFP and DIMIA were conducting a ruthless covert disruption program in Indonesia. It involved the AFP paying criminals who penetrated the people smuggling industry, cheated asylum-seekers of their life savings, and sank many boats. All this was done in the name of deterrence. People died in unknown numbers before SIEV X.

And the AFP also trained and paid Indonesian police mercenary teams to disrupt people smuggling. In what ways this was done, we don’t know – but there are many accounts from survivors and passengers who reached Australia of very senior Indonesian police operating within the smuggling industry, working with big people smugglers like Abu Quassey and Kevin Enniss to terrorise and steal from asylum-seekers. Were these the same police our AFP taught ? Did we teach them to do these things? More covert deterrence, perhaps?

Keelty told the Senate as little as he could but admitted the AFP had no control over how the Indonesian police whom they recruited then operated. It’s all in my book and it all comes from Senate evidence. Doesn’t that worry you? Is that all OK?

The Daoed trial in Brisbane was carefully structured to ensure that nothing came out about the sabotage and sinking of SIEV X, but still enough got out accidentally to open a major new evidentiary trail. Please come along to my talk at Hutley Hall, North Sydney Council Chambers, Miller Street, North Sydney at 7.30 on Wed 26th October to hear more on the new evidence. And let’s debate the new evidence in this public forum.

The fact is that almost every official witness in the Senate CMI inquiry lied, covered up relevant facts, or refused to answer proper Senate questions. I am not afraid to name them - they are all named in my book, and their testimony analysed. None have sued me yet. Because my book is true and based on unimpeachable, mostly official, sources. A lot of the sworn evidence by officials subsequently has collapsed under the weight of its own internal contradictions. A lot of this is set out in my book and yes, it does require a bit of intellectual muscle to follow it through. Because my book is trying to penetrate a concerted whole of government cover-up. To go in as David against Goliath, you have to work a bit harder.

As Marg Hutton says, the system is at odds with itself now over where SIEV X sank. The sinking location is a vital issue, and something is happening here now. Some Ministers are trying to resurrect the discredited three-year-old lie that “it cannot be known where SIEV X sank.” Other people seem more prepared to admit now that it sank in international waters and in the Operation Relex zone, where we necessarily had a legal and moral duty of care because of our announced large military presence there. After all, our ADF was there in force, to detect and repel all incoming unauthorised boats. So why didn’t it find SIEV X (if, indeed, it didn’t find SIEV X – at this point one can no longer necessarily trust anything the ADF has officially claimed about SIEV X, because so much has turned out to be false).

Faulkner, Collins, Bartlett, Cook were all appalled at how Howard has corrupted Australia’s national security and border protection culture, to the point where not even the huge loss of innocent human life on SIEV X on 19 October 2001 seemed to bother any senior officials very much. Yes, they were only asylum-seekers. So we really didn’t have to think too much about those that did not make it here.

Doesn’t the Senate record of expressed extreme concern about SIEV X and the disruption program over three years mean anything to you? What makes your judgement – most of you I know haven’t read my book, you’re probably been advised it’s better not to, and you are working off government talking point briefs - better than that of our elected Senate? Don’t you believe in our democracy any more? Did you lose that belief as a result of wherever you’ve been working these past few years? Are you really prepared to collaborate in the steady consolidation of control of Australia by a Howard-led national security state? And have you thought about what might comes after Howard, if such a regime takes firm hold?

Don’t you guys have any moral intelligence or foresight? The SIEV X story hooks directly into what is happening in Australia now, into the threatened state of our democracy and freedoms. The leader who says trust me on terror laws and industrial relations laws is the same leader whose office has instructed our national security system to go on covering up the deaths of innocent kids, possibly due to our disruption program in Indonesia, who could and should have lived in Australia with their mums and dads.

These were not rats or cockroaches to be casually eliminated or shrugged off in a higher national security interest. They were not drug-runners or terrorists. They were helpless homeless women and kids, and they did not threaten our country in any way at all. Whatever final truth on SIEV X emerges, you should all hang your heads in shame for what you are writing now.

Eric Childs, in particular. You suggested we “move on” from SIEV X to the ”real issues” that “have more traction”? Is this all just a political game for you? Maybe you are one of the moral geniuses who is advising Kim Beazley on what issues to avoid – of course SIEV X is one - and in the process destroying the backbone of a once great party of the Australian people? Where was the light on the hill for you, Eric? Wasn’t it shining for those poor homeless refugee kids?

To conclude, I don’t know what you guys do or did professionally. Many of you no doubt have some kinds of service or government background, or maybe in politics. Maybe some of you are or were soldiers, pilots, sailors, police, radio operators, intelligence analysts, spooks… But if any of you have young kids, go into their bedrooms and look at their sleeping faces now. Think how much you love them and want to protect them.

Then think about what the living parents of the drowned kids on SIEV X feel – not just this week, but every week of the year. Ask yourself if you ever expected your original service loyalty and secrecy oaths to your country might extend to helping cover up a still unknown degree of complicity by Australian government agencies in the killing of innocent kids in peacetime, beautiful kids who just wanted to hug their mums and dads in a new home in Australia.

Because that is all this is about, guys. Nothing more than this. No invasion. No defence of Fortress Australia. No alien peril. Just other people’s dead kids.

Yes I want you to sweat a bit, to think about your personal accountability to whatever it is you believe in. Because this is not a game, guys. I want you to see that this is a moral conversation we are having here on this thread now.

Whatever you know about the cover-up of the sinking of SIEV X – even if it’s only the tiniest part of it, even if it’s only that it was suggested to you by somebody to get into this conversation thread and that you were given a bit of help from someone in doing that - and knowing that Marg Hutton and I are each trying to piece together this intelligence jigsaw in the dark, against huge odds – how can you bear not to be helping us?

Because this is really about you and your identity as Australians. We know that what we are doing is right. Do you?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Indonesia might have a search and rescue zone on paper but in reality they don't have anyone or anything to do any rescuing.

353 innocent people drowned, the facts of the case are extremely well known so why don't people indulge themselves in maybe sparing a thought for the survivors who are now permanent residents of Australia, have a thought for their children who drowned and stop bickering about semantics.

The boat sank, people died in their hundreds and no one has held an inquest. That is what we want, and inquest into the unlawful killing of 353 people.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

This desperate tactic of using the ADF as a strawman to criticise Howard government policies is starting to get ridiculous.

First we have Jack H. Smit making a silly comparison between the SIEV-X search and this week’s search for a missing Immigration vessel in the Torres Strait Islands, having us believe that the latter are "... off Indonesia, not far from where SIEV-X disappeared four years ago". What's a few thousand kilometres here and there hey Jack?

Next we have Tony Kevin's tiresome whinge about the absence of an ADF whistleblower to confirm the great SIEV-X conspiracy, implying that the ADF hierarchy are without exception Howard lickspittles. "Look what happened to Andrew Wilkie, Lance Collins, Martin Toohey ..." he implores. Evidently he has forgotten about Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, recently appointed as the Chief of the Defence Force, who provided the only first hand evidence to the CMI inquiry that the Minister for Defence was directly informed of the falseness of the "children overboard" story.

Finally we have Marg Hutton flying off the handle at Neil James' quite reasonable letter in The Age (which I have reproduced in full below for the sake of balance). Initially Hutton misrepresents James, claiming "he state[d] that SIEVX went down in 'Indonesian waters'", when what he actually wrote was "in what has always been regarded as geographically Indonesian waters". Then she attempts to cast James as some kind of Howard apologist, conveniently overlooking the fact that he has been one of the most strident (not to mention informed) critics of the government's politicisation and bureaucratisation of intelligence, a subject dear to the hearts of many in this forum. And to conclude she calls for James to retract or amend his claims?!?

With this sort of misrepresentation, ignorance, hyperbole and downright hysteria is it any wonder that your arguments aren't gaining any credence with the mainstream?

Don't Blame Navy for SIEV-X Tragedy

THE Islamic Council of Victoria's Sheikh Issa owes the Royal Australian Navy an apology for his calumny that the navy was somehow involved in the 2001 sinking of SIEV-X (The Age, 20/10).

This old and leaky Indonesian fishing vessel was grossly overloaded at gunpoint by Iraqi, Egyptian and Indonesian people smugglers and subsequently sank during a storm in what has always been regarded as geographically Indonesian waters about 70 kilometres south of Java. The sinking occurred more than 2200 kilometres from mainland Australia and some 350 kilometres from the nearest Australian territory of Christmas Island. As the subsequent Senate inquiry revealed, the nearest Australian warships and aircraft were hundreds of kilometres away during and after the sinking. The RAN had no way of knowing of the tragedy but obviously would have helped if it had known and could have assisted.

More to the point, the sinking occurred well within Indonesia's zone of international search and rescue responsibility. It is simply irresponsible at best to wrongly blame the RAN when an unseaworthy Indonesian boat on a smuggling voyage sinks off the Indonesian coast well inside the Indonesian search and rescue zone.

The grief of SIEV-X survivor Bahja Hassan is understandable, but blaming the RAN is simple psychological transference with no factual foundation and will not help resolution of her grief.

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association, Canberra

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Marilyn Shepherd wrote: "Indonesia might have a search and rescue zone on paper but in reality they don't have anyone or anything to do any rescuing."

So I suppose the Indonesian search and rescue agency BASARNAS and Indonesian Navy must be a figment of the imagination Marilyn?

Marilyn also wrote: "That is what we want, and inquest into the unlawful killing of 353 people."

What are you suggesting now Marilyn? That the RAN not only found them, but murdered them?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Tony Kevin, yes this is absolutely a political game for me. And one we are losing. It might occur to you that despite your best efforts and those of the so called "loopy left" as we are now being labelled in the main stream media, John Howard is STILL in power and now with a Senate majority. Tony and Marilyn can get as angry as they like with me but WE ARE STILL LOSING.

Understand one simple fact between the pair of you and we may stand some chance of throwing Howard the rat out of office. The public don't give two hoots about your alleged SIEV X, Y or Z.

Rightly or wrongly they care about putting petrol in their cars and about their kids getting jobs.

It is all well and good to be righteous but we have been far too long out of office and therefore out of real influence. Our first priority needs to be to get a government in office that we can have some real influence over.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Marilyn Shepherd: "The boat sank, people died in their hundreds and no one has held an inquest. That is what we want, an inquest into the unlawful killing of 353 people."

There is no jurisdiction for an Australian court to hold an inquest into the deaths of non-Australians off the coast of another country and outside Australian territory.

If there were, the coroner would have to look at the issue of culpability. Such was the recklessness of the people who continued the voyage when they had the opportunity to get off the boat, as 26 of them did, but chose to continue their voyage, that any of them who chose to continue the voyage with their children, and whose children drowned, could face a recommendation from the coroner that they face prosecution for murder.

Those who encouraged them, even indirectly, in undertaking their reckless enterprise of travelling in an unseaworthy fishing boat over an open ocean would face, at least, severe criticism from the coroner and quite possibly, for some of them, a recommendation that they face charges of manslaughter.

The unlawful killing was done by the people smugglers, by Indonesian officials who allowed the boat to sail, by hangers-on in Australia who used the passengers on the boat as toys in their game to force the Australian Goverment to change its policy and, sad to say, those parents on the boat who were criminal enough to risk their childrens' lives in circumstances in which no responsible parent would take such risk and where they clearly had a choice, at least at one point, to avoid that risk.

The death of the 353 who drowned on the SIEVX lies on the conscience of that small number of people in Australia who encouraged them in their wanton recklessness, not on the rest of the Australian community. This is for their consciences to bear. They should not try to transfer their properly held feelings of guilt for their complicity in this tragedy onto the rest of the Australian people.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

BASARNAS is funded by Australia. Full stop. They have no capability to do anything.

The boat went down in International waters. Therefore we have the right to have an inquest as we did for two other women who drowned.

You guys are like brainless savages - they are human beings.

Do you even understand how appalling it might have been out there?

Greg Moylan, why do you think it was reckless? I find that amazing. Women wanted to be with their husbands, children with their dads.

Our laws meant Indonesia could have sent them straight back to Saddam Hussain because they didn't sign the refugee convention.

Women and children have a right to live with their husbands don't they?

As to being reckless - let's try desperate. They were told by Quessay the murderer that they would be going to a nice big boat, or two boats and when they got to the boat that sank they were not allowed to get off.

What on Earth is wrong with people that they can continue to blindly blame victims of terror and crime and oppression because they died?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Tony Kevin has stated and I quote: “It involved the AFP paying criminals who penetrated the people smuggling industry, cheated asylum-seekers of their life savings, and sank many boats. All this was done in the name of deterrence. People died in unknown numbers before SIEV X.”

So he is implying without ANY EVIDENCE that the AFP are paying criminals to sink boats with people on them who lost their lives as a result of this.

He appears to be accusing the Australian Federal Police of conspiring to commit murder.

Without some solid evidence, how is this different to the 9/11 conspiracy theories or the Holocaust conspiracy theories?

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Must say, from a position in "lurking" mode I found the second Jane McIntyre blog a sensible tonic.

J Wilshaw had bragged earlier that these asylum-seeker threads do not always receive the same active participation rate as others, like the IR thread.

So what?

After all, the issues are of a different nature; the IR issue is new and bound to attract much comment, particularly as the IR laws stand to affect local people in such large numbers as well as being a possible symptoms of wider issues and movements in local politics. And the threads are not "in competition", like a footy match.

I suggest that many people apart from the direct contributors may follow the issue quietly and from a distance, simply because the full facts appear to still not be fully known (thanks, Howard government). Hence many will be in a state of on-going withholdance of judgement.

But this does not mean that the various and numerous pieces of evidence and judgement proffered by those who feel they have a more complete understanding of what has gone before are not being considered or chewed over, or related against previous information.

For example, has Howard government behaviour as exhibited concerning other issues over time tallied with one viewpoint or other expressed (viewpoints are polarised), through this thread?

Circumstantial and secondary impressions?

Yes, but influential nonetheless. For example, what would a reader make of the likelihood of, say, the frankness of Howard concerning SIEV-X, given his approach to anti-terrorism/sedition legislation, or IR, say?

Who becomes gradually more beleivable, on that basis?

"Tone" is important, too. Are contributions attempts to marshal and present facts and provide reasonable interpretations, or sneering, abusive and evasive in their nature (indicating lack of confidence in the material offered)?

Let's suggest an entirely fanciful and arbitrary mid-point between the two poles, as a possibility. Would this infer that a responsible government might still have embarrassing questions to answer as to attitude, motives and conduct?

OK, on the above provisional, tentative conclusion or better, Howard may also not be in the Idi Amin/Suharto/ impoverished and chaotic banana republic class. However, if we aspiring for and capable of 'world's-best', something an Australian might consider apt for a sophisticated and well-meaning government worthy of an established democracy, I'd suggest the resulting verdict might not be so edifying for thinking Australians, who have avoided "contempt prior to investigation", thus far.
Time will "out", we hope.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin


How do I know? Those who survived SIEVX and the loved ones who died deserve the truth. How do I know? I see in their eyes what I saw in my mother's eyes. This is how I know.

June 16, 2002 WEBDIARY:

"During WWll Winston Churchill, wishing to impress his new ally Stalin, personally planned Fleet Air Arm strikes from aircraft carriers in the North Sea. The Royal Navy suffered appalling losses of aircrew. Orders remained after the element of surprise was gone. Aware of the risk an entire squadron took off and never returned ... they ceased to exist. The oldest airman was 22, he was the only married man, and his wife was pregnant. His child was born three months after his death. I am that child.

The terror of a slow and painful death in violent and treacherous seas is not outside of my imagination. Every life is equal and every life should be acknowledged. I did not know the 353 of Siev-X but I grieve for them. I did not know my father but I grieve for him.

I am proud to be the daughter of that officer and proud of the Navy in which he served. I believe had he lived he would demand to know what happened to the people of Siev-X."

March 20, 2003 WEBDIARY:

"The 353 of SIEV-X - the 146 children, the 142 women and 65 men seemed to cry to me from the sea and allowed me to grieve for the first time for the father I never knew. And for the first time there was something I could do to honour the memory of my father who also lies in an unmarked watery grave. Lt. John James Robertson Davies RN was alive for me as never before when I founded JANNAH THE SIEV X MEMORIAL"

My mother died young. She was 46 and had long since given up asking the question but part of her was already dead and lying at the bottom of the North Sea. I finally found out what had happened to my father when I was 27. No one should ever have to wait that long for the truth.

The people of SIEVX should be told the truth. So should the people of Australia. We have signed agreements with Indonesia - our countries co-operate with one another. Australian policemen are on the ground there. Why don't they co-operate with a full judicial inquiry into the events of SIEVX.


Although we have talked on the telephone regularly I did not met AMAL BASRY until October 26 2004 at the Sydney Launch of Steve Biddulph's memorial project.

Amal had wanted to know what I looked like and I asked her if she had seen 'Two Fat Ladies in the Kitchen'. She had, she loves cooking. I told her over the phone that I looked like Clarissa the blonde one. She laughed and laughed. When we finally saw each other we instantly knew each other and fell into an embrace. She cried and I cried ... I am not a crier ... but I cried. We both told each other we loved each other. We both said, "You are my sister." We seemed to say all this at once together - it was as though in that instant we occupied the same body.

I sat down with Amal and she introduced me as her sister to the other women. Amal had been sitting with survivors. Sisters Najah and Zeina and a mother who cries silently all the time and carries with her the photograph of her son who she believes may still be alive. Amal said, "Mary I want to speak ... Mary I have to speak." Amal wanted to speak because she was speaking for them as well. We all spoke in our own languages and Amal and one of the children with them translated occasionally but it seemed unnecessary as they showed me pictures of the people they had lost and kissed me and we embraced ... there was no language barrier between those women and myself. We seemed to understand each other perfectly. I was awed by the grace of these women who have suffered so much but apart from one meter of fabric I can see no difference between them and us. The people I did not understand are the people who did not want them to speak or be heard. I know who those people are ... they are us ... and they frighten me!

Amal said, "Mary I want to speak ... Mary I have to speak..."

So I started to signal Steve who was at the lectern. Steve paused and I said, "Excuse me, Steve. Amal Basry wants to speak. It is her right to speak. It is her story and the story of the women here." Steve gratiously stepped aside.

When she reached the lectern she started with the words, "I am still in the water with the dying," and then she looked across the room and suddenly saw Sondos Ismail the mother who lost her three little girls whose photograph no one who cares about SIEVX can ever forget. Amal had been so close to Sondos in Indonesia while the survivors had to wait while Australia decided their fate and had not seen her since. Seeing Sondos with her little daughter Allaa who was born in Australia and looks so much like her three little sisters that she will never meet overwhelmed Amal and she broke down in tears.

For a moment it looked as though she could not go on. But Amal, who is fighting cancer, is an exceptionally strong woman and she knew she must speak for Sondos and the others as well. And Amal continued with tears rolling from her eyes.

Without need of notes or a translator Amal Basry told the story of SIEVX as no one, however good their intentions, could. She spoke for less than four minutes. She spoke of her cancer and her experience on SIEVX and in the water. She told us more about SIEVX than any of us knew because she was there. She was poetic. She was compelling. She was the truth. People listened intently, some cried, and in the packed church a pin dropping would have sounded like a thunder clap.

See here.

When she had finished talking Amal looked around for me and reached for my hand she wanted to know what we should do next. I said "let's go and see Sondos." Amal is fighting cancer but was off like a rocket ... I have arthritis and I think I was running. I think I had to be running because she would have pulled me over if I hadn't. Whoosh, we were with Sondos. They hugged and cried and Amal pulled me into the hug.

Amal means hope in Arabic and she was hope. And she gave hope to Mohammad Alghazzi who lost 14 family members and Ali Al Husseini who lost 8 members of his family that one day they would be able to tell Australia how SIEVX had changed their lives forever. They were there they were listening. And later when the people of SIEVX all got together these two men learnt for the first time about the last hours and minutes of those they loved and cherished.

I don't get out much. This was the first time I had ever met or spoken directly to the people of SIEVX. It was also the first time I had been amongst refugees and it was the first time I had ever talked with any woman wearing the Hijab. They welcomed me into their family. Why, oh why, did we fail to welcome them into ours?


You can read Amal's story in her own words 'I AM STILL IN THE WATER WITH THE DYING OF SIEVX' and 'BELONGING IN AUSTRALIA' at http://sievx.com/.

Historian Marg Hutton, webowner of the respected archive SIEVX.com has painstaking pieced together the available detailed photographs of the survivors together and has generously given permission for these quotes from the survivors to be linked to the SIEVX.com Survivors Speak articles.

"Wherever you look you see the dead children like birds floating on the water. Those who survived 22 hours in the water saw the dead bodies of women and children with cuts from nails on the boat and with scars from where the fish were biting at them in the water and saw blood. In the end a boat came to rescue us. The ones who died have found comfort. As for us, our lives have been destroyed." ~ AHMED HUSSEIN
Survivors Speak: Ahmed Hussein (/archives/2003_07-08/20030705.shtml)

"My wife and daughters were looking at me and crying as the boat capsized. I lost three children and my wife, but the 150 children are like my own too. Those who perished with their families have found reprieve, but as for us, we are mere empty shells, our souls went with them. Every time I saw a child I could not differentiate between it and my children. Anywhere I placed my arm, a drowned child or woman would emerge and lift my arm and the surviving women would cry more. My wife and children stayed under the boat - they never came out." ~ HASSAN JASSEM
Survivors Speak: Hassan Jassem (/archives/2003_07-08/20030707.shtml)

".... the 150 children kept floating up looking for air to breathe inside their cabin - more water went in and they were drowned. We were a group of 28 doctors from Khuzistan. We lived in Iran for 11 years, only 5 remained. There were some children and some women amongst the group." ~ Dr HAYDAR
Survivors Speak: Dr Haydar from Khuzistan (/archives/2003_07-08/20030703.shtml)

"I boarded the boat with my wife and four children and also my brother, brother's wife and two children. One of my children survived, my wife, my brother and family all drowned. My brother screamed out to be rescued but I could not help him. He was too far from the children. One of my other children kept crying for water until the morning when he died of thirst. I kept two of my children on my shoulders all night. It was raining heavily, I did not know where my wife was. One of the children died in the morning from thirst ... " ~ FAWZI QASIM
Survivors Speak: Fawzi & Amar (/archives/2003_09-10/20030911.shtml)

"I then saw a man by the name of Yasser Elhelou, he lost his entire family. I called out to him but he could not help me. I saw another man wearing a lifejacket, I asked him to help me find my daughter. As he turned I realised that it was my husband. I told him that my daughters were taken under. He said 'Maybe someone has rescued them.' He was able to grab a floating plank of timber for me. We went on the plank for a while. I said that I am in despair for my daughters. He said may be someone has rescued them. Then I saw my small daughter Alya floating, eyes open, dead. Her father embraced her and started calling her name; he kissed her and hugged her. I said 'God has taken her'. He said 'Come see her'. I said 'I cannot look at her'. He left her, then a little later we saw the body of my elder daughter with the body of the woman who was responsible for her going under water. The other woman's two daughters, twelve and eleven, were also floating by her, both dead; my daughter was on top of her head. My husband said 'This is my daughter Kawthar.' Her father tried to revive her, he called out to her and then started to choke in pain and sorrow. He looked quite strong until he saw his daughters and he started choking. He said 'I have lost my family. I have brought you to this, I do not deserve to live.' He said 'I cannot stay, I do not want to see you die in front of me.' As he was talking he was looking very tired. He was crying and his grip became loose because of exhaustion. Then a wave came and washed him away from the timber." ~ ROKAYA SATAR
Survivors Speak: Rokaya Satar (/archives/2003_07-08/20030704.shtml)

"I saw a child I thought was asleep on the water but I found him to be dead. We saw many different tragedies - the floating dead bodies, those crying for their brothers, fathers, wives, children, etc. It was unimaginable. I cannot continue, excuse me." ~ ABU MUSLIM
Survivors Speak: Abu Muslim (/archives/2003_07-08/20030708.shtml)

Sadiq Raza, held his young two year old daughter Kauthar on his shoulders in the water for twenty hours to save her life. Heroic feats of endurance like this were also performed by other survivors who desperately tried to keep their young children alive until they were rescued, but sadly Kauthar Sadiq was the only small child to survive.

"There were a number of us holding onto a plank of timber. As time went on in the water, one would say, 'I cannot hold on - please forgive me. Please pass my greetings to so and so' and they would lose their grip and get washed away. This happened to one after the other... I cannot speak about what I witnessed, please let me be excused. [His daughter Kauthar cries out for her mother.] ~ SADIQ RAZA & KAUTHAR
Survivors Speak: Sadiq & Kauthar (/archives/2003_07-08/20030709.shtml)

Zaynab Alrimahi found it hard to speak. Zaynab Alrimahi was one of only five children to survive the sinking of SIEVX and the only one to lose her entire family in the tragedy. Zaynab was travelling with her parents Souad and Ahsan, two brothers, Mahmoud (6) and Moustafa (4), and two sisters, Fatima (14) and Roukaya (7) both Zaynab's Iraqi parents and all four of her siblings drowned. Zaynab survived the sinking with the help of Husam, the teenage son of Issam and Rajaa Al Haddad.

"The last words Zaynab Alrimahi heard her mother utter were a prayer." Kelly Burke reported in The Age, 21 December 2001. "Souad Alrimahi implored Allah to keep her five children safe as she put lifejackets on them and led her family to the top deck of the sinking vessel. Within seconds, the boat carrying more than 400 asylum seekers capsized in rough seas off the south-west coast of Java.

"Zaynab's starkest memory was the sight of her six-year-old brother Mahmoud clinging to a plank as he choked to death on a deadly cocktail of seawater and fuel.
Survivors Speak: Zaynab Alrimahi (/archives/2003_07-08/20030710.shtml)

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Please give me the courtesy of a straight answer Marilyn. When you wrote "... an inquest into the unlawful killing of 353 people ..." are you seriously suggesting that the RAN not only found the SIEV-X survivors, but murdered them? There are a lot of us who agree with your criticisms of the Government's appaling asylum seeker policies but who are sick and tired of your totally unfounded criticisms of the ADF. Perhaps if you could be more objective you might get a more sympathetic ear.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

I think the post by Greg Moylan sums the situation up perfectly.

As the copper in the black and white movies would say, 'time to move along, nothing to see here'.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

Well said, Greg Moylan. I hope people will read and absorb your posting.

Eric Childs, this may be an absolutly political game to you, but it is not for me. I don't care one bit about the politics. I put my views forward after reading the intro and Jack H Smit's totally wrong and disparaging comments regarding our Search and Rescue people, whom I hold in the highest regard. This includes all ADF personal, other Gov Depts and the many private individuals that contribute their own time, effort and money to help others.

You are right to say you are losing the debate and Why? Because of the exageration, emotion, untruths and spin that is part of your argument. These have been shown up.

You are wrong to say the public do not care about the SievX. We do care, but see it as an Indonesian matter, like a train smash in India is an Indian matter. So take your demands for an inquest up with the Indonesians. Vessels that leave our ports must be safely loaded.

The price of petrol and jobs are not the only concerns, the public care about victims of earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks and famine (in Africa yet again). Also about the Pacific Highway, mental health, youth suicide, drugs and petrol sniffing. These ALL affect INNOCENT PEOPLE.

I share these concerns so do not say I am uncaring or cruel. Some people do not watch Big Brother, but give thought and effort to assist in these matters. Some, like myself, forward our thoughts to Gov Ministers, Oppositions and Committees so our suggestions can be assesed along with others.

Marilyn Sheperd, your suggestion that if the situation involved "white people" it would be different, I find absolutly repulsive and a gross insult to our S & R , Service and AFP personel. We just lost many fine people helping in Indonesia. Do you think AFP forensic staff only help to identify "white" corpses. Never once has a question been raised about race or religion when a call came for help and never will.

It is little wonder that the public can see through your false compassion to the political agenda.

re: SIEV-X: still drowning in spin

J Wilshaw, Keelty admitted it - it was on the AFP website that they were setting up sting operations, stealing from refugees, using Indonesian police to do their dirty work and ASIS were involved as well.

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