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Of fishers and men

Indonesians held in detention in Australia for people smuggling are there because of poverty

Asriana Kebon


Indonesian fishers are the sacrificial lambs of the people smuggling industry
F. Madrid

Australia currently faces the dilemma of how to deal with a large number of asylum seekers who are arriving by boat on the quest to find refuge on Australian shores. The responses to this issue have been both divisive and emotional. But amidst all the controversy one group of people affected have been all but forgotten. The majority of media reports, NGO campaigns and government debates have focused on the people claiming asylum. The asylum seekers have a large group of Australian supporters who willingly champion their cause and fight for their legal rights, even if they do not always succeed.

The Indonesian crews do not have the benefit of this support base. These men are marginalised fishers from impoverished villages throughout the Indonesian archipelago who are targeted by unscrupulous people smugglers to crew their boats. In the eyes of the smugglers they are a cheap, disposable commodity. If apprehended by the Australian authorities they are treated as criminals and held in detention centres until their cases are put before the courts.

In August 2010, Indonesian boat crew held at the Darwin immigration detention centre for transporting asylum seekers into Australian waters voiced their frustrations. Over a number of days, these men protested, rioted and made an

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