Six Bangladeshi nationals were returned to Indonesia after the Australian Border Force caught them while on Indonesian fishermen’s boats, the Indonesian police official confirmed.
The six Bangladeshi men on the boat were suspected to be illegal immigrants, as told by East Nusa Tenggara water police Chief Teddy J.S. Marbun to Fairfax Media. He added that the six people on the boat left Kupang along with two Indonesians on March 3. “They made it to Australian (waters) but their boat sunk,” he said. “The eight people then were rescued by an Australian customs ship for three days.”
Marbun serially described the incident and said that the six Bangladeshi men were transferred to an Indonesian boat with two fishermen fishing near Ashmore Reef after the accident. He also said that the people on the boat were not aware of each other’s language and communicated through sign language. The Indonesian fishermen were given fuel and supplies for the trip after the Australian authorities didn’t accept the migrants who entered the country after breaching Australian waters. After the boat sank, Australia sent all the six Bangladeshis back to Indonesia again.
AAP confirmed the ABF took the six asylum seekers and two Indonesian crew members aboard prior to the scuttling of boat’s vessels. Marbun said that the asylum seekers claimed that they lost their documents, including passports when the boat was “drowned by the Australians.”
Meanwhile, Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg tweeted that they were not responsible for the drowning of the Indonesian boat but rather they assisted the vessel in distress. “ABF Maritime patrol assisted an Indonesian vessel in distress. Vessel was NOT scuttled – was unseaworthy & sank. Pax assisted & ok,” he wrote.
Indonesian crew member Isai Rano told AAP that the ABF did not give them any money to return to Indonesia. “Before sending us back to Kupang, officers from Australian Customs gave us logistics like food, fuel and life jacket,” he said as quoted by the ABC. He added the authorities promised to offer him and his Indonesian companion crew member Lasuma 35 million rupiah (AU$3,563) for transporting the Bangladeshis to Australia of which they already received 10 million rupiah (AU$1,018).