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Asylum seekers throw children off boat after navy refuses entry to Australian waters

By PETER O'CONNOR, The Associated Press

10/7/01 6:30 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- The government said Sunday it wouldn't change a policy of denying entry to asylum seekers after would-be refugees threw children from a boat in the Indian Ocean to protest being turned away by an Australian navy ship.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said asylum seekers in lifejackets began jumping from a boat and throwing their children overboard after naval officers came aboard and ordered the ship to return to international waters late Saturday, 130 miles from the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island.

"I regard this as one of the most disturbing practices I've come across," he said. The navy rescued the people in the water, Ruddock said.

Campaigning in Sydney for national elections on Nov. 10, Prime Minister John Howard told reporters he would not change the government's policy of refusing entry to asylum seekers. "Our policy remains quite resolute. We are not going to be intimidated out of our policy by this kind of behavior," he said, adding that the actions were "a sorry reflection" on the refugees' "attitude of mind."

Carrying 187 people, the boat returned to international waters Sunday and was believed to be heading north to Indonesia. Australia's navy planned to shadow the vessel until it looked like it was not going to come back, a spokeswoman for Ruddock said.

The boat had come from Indonesia, but the nationality of its occupants was not immediately known. In the past year, more than 5,000 asylum seekers, most fleeing human catastrophes in the Middle East and Afghanistan, have come to Australia by boat via Indonesia with the help of smugglers.

In August, Howard changed government policy when he refused permission for a Norwegian cargo ship, the Tampa, to enter Australian waters after it saved 433 mostly Afghan asylum seekers from a sinking Indonesian ferry. When the Tampa defied that order and steamed close to Christmas Island, Howard ordered 50 elite commandos to storm the ship and prevent the refugees from landing on Australian soil.

The government's tough stance earned unprecedented international criticism, but Howard's popularity soared at home, positioning his government to win a third term. The opposition Labor Party supports the government's policy.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press.

-- Swissrose (, October 07, 2001


It too bad we can't adopt the same attitude here. The liberals keep on saying that we need the Mexicans so that we'll do the jobs that we refuse to do. My wife works at Ross Dress for Less, which is like a clothing department store. She says that they employ about 10 people that can barely speak English (Mexicans) and that they have one person to do the translating. My brother who is a luxury residential contractor says that most of the the trades are completely Mexican now. Thanks America for allowing the invasion to continue unabated. We're in an uproar over the terrorism but the stealth invasion is received with open arms (or maybe I should say, with blinders on). As long as your flying the American flag, stick the Mexican flag up there too. Its just a matter of time before you will be forced to learn Spanish.

-- Guy Daley (, October 07, 2001.

More likely, Spanglish.

-- Joe (, October 07, 2001.

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