National

Basarnas accused of receiving
illegal funding from Australia

The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) has allegedly been receiving illegal funds from the Australian government with regard to the handling of refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East.

“It is presumed that Basarnas has received illegal funds from and worked for the Australian government to bring asylum seekers and refugees from the Middle East ashore in Indonesia,” said Hikmahanto Juwana, a professor of international law from the University of Indonesia’s School of Law, in Jakarta on Sunday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Earlier, 21 undocumented immigrants from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and several African countries died after their vessel sank off Cikole beach in Kampung Genggong, Agrabinta district, Cianjur, on Friday, apparently while en route to Australia. Twenty four migrants who survived the sinking are currently being accommodated at the Hotel Sarah in Sukabumi.

Hikmahanto alleged that Basarnas as a government institution had become “a paid agent” tasked with handling Australian problems. He said the entire process starting from the discovery of the Middle Eastern migrants to their handover by the Australian Navy to Basarnas was very questionable.

“What a stupid thing for Basarnas to accept the refugees and asylum seekers from the Australian Navy under the pretext that they were found in Indonesian waters. It reflects stupidity, not hospitality,” said Hikmahanto.

He said the agency’s decision to accept the migrants would be understandable only if the people concerned were Indonesians.

Hikmahanto said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should seek clarification from Basarnas on the issue and the House of Representatives had to summon the agency for an explanation.

“The Corruption Eradication Commission should investigate the possible transfer of illegal funds from the Australian government to Basarnas if necessary,” he said. (ebf)

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