Australian opposition rejects Sri Lankan asylum seekers

2009-12-28 10:34:08

CANBERRA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Australian opposition on Monday rejected calls to bring a boatload of asylum seekers to Australia despite increasing concern for their welfare.

Almost 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have refused to leave their boat moored off the Indonesian coast since arriving there in October for fear they will have to wait years to be resettled.

Refugee advocates and Tamil groups staged a protest outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta on Monday, demanding the Australian government resolve the stand-off.

The Australian government, which asked Indonesia to intercept the vessel, has been urged to take responsibility for the boatload following the death of one of the asylum seekers on Christmas Eve.

Despite the tension, the coalition would not support bringing the group to Australia, Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison told the Australian Associated Press.

"This only highlights the special deal that was done for the Oceanic Viking," he said.

That group of asylum seekers were lured off their boat after the federal government made various assurances they would be processed quickly.

The latest interception of 17 asylum seekers on their way to Australia on Boxing Day was another sign the government was failing to deter people smugglers, Morrison added.

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