These appear to be the “lifeboats” the Australian government is using to force asylum seekers toward Indonesia.
They are in fact floating, temporary detention centres. Their passengers are coerced on board by personnel from the agencies involved in Operation Sovereign Borders. They raise serious questions about the responsibility of the Australian Government for what occurs as a result of such actions, including engaging in ‘unauthorised people-trafficking’ and, not least, the three deaths that have already been reported.
They were fed and photographed. On the tenth day, they were ordered into the lifeboat. Some, according to the husband and wife, refused to enter the capsule and were physically shoved inside. They were given documents stating their vessel was not to enter Australian waters.
The Indonesian crew who had captained the scuttled boat was ordered to pilot the lifeboat back to Indonesia. They travelled through international waters under escort by Border Protection Command until they arrived close to Indonesian territory.
The asylum-seekers – said to be mostly Iranian and Sri Lankan – told the husband and wife the Indonesians jumped out close to shore and handed the controls to an Iranian, who ran the boat into a reef.
They then waded ashore wearing life jackets and spent two days wandering terrified in the jungle before a sheepherder directed them towards a road, where they grabbed minibuses and motorbikes to take them back to Cisarua.
Three died while crossing a river in the jungle.
Update: According to a 9 January report in The Australian, the lifeboats are manufactured by a company called Vanguard Composite Engineering, based in Singapore. Sale of these boats to the Australian Government, with knowledge of their intended purpose, makes a mockery of Vanguard’s tagline, “Safe at sea.”