Indonesian Police has fired a warning shot into the air after a group of Sri Lankan women who have been stranded off the coast of Aceh since June 11 disembarked from their boat in defiance of orders from Indonesian authorities, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.
An eyewitness has told Fairfax Media the five women, who are among 44 Sri Lankans who claimed they were en route to Australia when they suffered engine trouble, had earlier pleaded that a child they said was sick be allowed to come to shore.
Indonesian authorities have refused to allow the Sri Lankans, who are believed to be Tamils, to disembark in Indonesia because they do not have passports or travel documents.
This is despite Amnesty International and the Geutanyoe Foundation for Aceh urging the Indonesian government to allow the Sri Lankans to disembark and meet with UN refugee agency officials.
Ahmad Samadan, the head of immigration in Aceh, told Fairfax Media the boat of Sri Lankans would be towed off the beach and then escorted out of Indonesian waters when the weather calmed down.
"Once they leave Indonesian waters it's up to them where they go next," he said.
However, Indonesian media reported that the group of Sri Lankans stranded off Indonesia is set to be ‘escorted’ back towards India.
Describing the Sri Lankans as ‘illegal immigrants’, the head of the Aceh immigration division A Samadan said they had been rejected on four grounds, including a lack of travel documents and a failure to notify authorities of their intended arrival.
The boat will be escorted out of Indonesian waters towards India, Mr Samadan told AAP on Thursday.
The international director of the Geutanyoe Foundation, Lilianne Fan, told Fairfax Media the Sri Lankans had indicated to local journalists that they had left Jaffna, the capital city of the northern province of Sri Lanka.
Fairfax Media understands the women who jumped off the boat sat on the beach and mimed shooting themselves in the temple.
In chaotic scenes local police tried to cordon off the beach and persuade the remaining Sri Lankans to stay on the boat.
Fairfax Media understands the five women, who suffered mild injuries jumping on shore, have now returned to the boat where they - and the sick child - are being treated by Indonesian health officers.