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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 December 2009

Free the Tamil boat people

AS PART of an international day of action, Tamil Solidarity organised a protest outside the Indonesian embassy in London on Friday.

Manny Thain

A letter was handed to an embassy official, highlighting the plight of Tamil refugees, whose boat was intercepted by the Indonesian navy on 11 October - with the collusion of the Australian government - and is now moored in Merak harbour, Indonesia. The 254 refugees include elderly people, young children and pregnant women. They have inadequate food, water and medical attention. The refugees want humanitarian aid. And they want to continue on to Australia where they hope they will be able to live in relative security.

In Indonesia, a foreign office representative said that access to the UNHCR will only be allowed once the refugees have been verified. The refugees would have to leave the boat for verification. They have refused for fear that they will be held in detention or forced to return to Sri Lanka, from where they fled war, prison camps and repression. So the standoff will continue.

Reports of other protests can be found on the Tamil Solidarity, website: www.tamilsolidarity.org

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