By Gandhya Senanayake
The Sri Lanka Navy says there is no proof that would be illegal asylum seekers reaching Australia are crossing Sri Lankan waters and that instead they may be coming from Malaysia and India.
Navy Spokesperson Captain Athula Senarath told Daily Mirror online that the Navy continued to strictly survey the waters and any asylum seekers attempting to cross Sri Lankan waters would be apprehended immediately.
“We have maintained tight security and the Navy continues to patrol the seas. There is a large Sri Lankan community in India and Malaysia so we suspect that the asylum seekers would have illegally fled to Australia through these countries,” the Captain said.
Meanwhile the Herald Sun newspaper in Australia reported today that hindreds of Sri Lankan asylum seekers are dumping their IDs before they reach Christmas Island, raising major security concerns for authorities as they try to weed out former guerilla fighters.
Another unauthorised boat was intercepted today, but the Herald Sun has also learned nearly 3000 Australian-bound asylum seekers have been blocked by Indonesia in the past year, saving the Rudd Government further boat people embarrassment.
The hot issue is unlikely to disappear however, with senior Government figures admitting they are expecting significant numbers of asylum seekers to continue to arrive.
Australian government figures show 492 of 742 Sri Lankans who arrived over 12 months took commercial flights at some stage of their journey. But only 147 had passports or travel documents when they arrived in Australia.
ASIO has publicly announced adverse security assessments against only five Sri Lankans, who have been linked to the Tamil Tigers. But it is believed the agency has serious concerns about several hundred ethnic Tamils seeking asylum, because they cannot be identified.
The Opposition said the Government would be forced to axe compulsory offshore processing with the arrival of the next unauthorised boat.
But Immigration Minister Chris Evans' office said a plan to process asylum seekers in Darwin was yet to be activated. (Daily Mirror online)