More than 350 asylum seekers were killed when the overcrowded Indonesian fishing vessel sank en route to Australia.
A group of artists and writers is pushing for a national memorial on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says Australians should recognise the tragedy but it is for the Federal Government to consider first.
"This is a national Commonwealth issue, it's not an ACT specific or ACT Government issue," he said.
"At this stage I haven't given serious consideration to whether the ACT Government should step in if the Commonwealth Government is resistant to working with this particular group."
Five years since Australia’s SIEV X tragedy: the official cover-up continues
Five years after Australia’s worst maritime disaster, in which 353 asylum seekers, including 150 children, drowned, not one of the fundamental questions raised by the terrible tragedy has been answered.
In the early afternoon of October 19, 2001, the boat’s passengers, fleeing mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan, perished in international waters between Indonesia and Australia. They were travelling in a hopelessly overcrowded refugee boat, which sank while trying to reach the Australian territorial outpost of Christmas Island. The area was under heavy surveillance by the Australian air force and navy under the Howard government’s “Operation Relex”, launched to detect and repulse “Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels” (SIEVs).
A number of questions arise:
1. Why were the detailed intelligence reports about the boat’s departure from Indonesia, in an obviously unseaworthy condition, apparently ignored?
2. Why did the navy not intercept this boat, like every other refugee boat sailing from Indonesia to Christmas Island at the time?
3. Why did Howard government ministers and the military lie about what they knew and when? What has the government been trying to conceal?
If a jumbo jet or cruise liner carrying almost 400 individuals had disappeared in the Indian Ocean at the same location it is inconceivable that no search and rescue operation would have been mounted. Imagine the resources that would have been deployed had the passengers been British or American tourists! When lone yachtsmen have gone missing far away from the Australian coast, multi-million dollar rescue operations have, correctly, been carried out. But not in this case. And even more strikingly, no-one in official circles has been held to account. No official inquiry, even a coronial inquest, has been conducted into how and why these people died.
At the very least, it appears that the lives of the 397 stateless and penniless refugees aboard the SIEV 8 (later dubbed the SIEV X, or “unknown” SIEV) were considered to be of little value.
More ominously, their deaths served a definite political agenda. Soon after the catastrophe became known to the public, then immigration minister Philip Ruddock made the following chilling comment on SBS TV. This “may have an upside,” he declared, “in the sense that some people may see the dangers inherent in it”. In other words, the tragedy could prove to be just what the government needed to discourage other asylum seekers from trying to reach Australia.By In Solidarity 3 September 05
Detention policy: Change Your Mind
THE long and agonising refugee policy retreat has begun, but Australia has been damage irreparably over the politics and morality of asylum-seeker policy and no resolution of this conflict is in sight.
Psychiatrists dismiss Vanstone's call to limit role
Psychiatrists treating mentally-ill Baxter detainees have rejected the Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone's call for them to restrict their role to the immediate care of patients.
HREOC's deadline on child detainees passes
"We detainees request from human Australian to release us from Nauru cage" Years of waiting took their toll on asylum seekers. There are still two men there! They are suffering. (April 2006).
Tampering with Asylum
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT THAT AUSTRALIA'S recent policies on asylum seekers are wrong, but don't quite have the statistics to back up your views?
Baxter,'akin to the time in Nazi Germany'
I went to Baxter this Easter just past, and became more aware that this time is akin to the time in Nazi Germany when the concentration camps were being set up.
Asylum seeker denied medical help, court hears
An Iranian asylum seeker was denied access to psychiatric help, despite slashing himself several times inside South Australia's Baxter detention centre, the Federal Court in Adelaide has heard.
Once You've Been to Baxter You Can't Sit on the Fence
I spent this Easter in the desert. I spent this Easter protesting at Baxter detention centre to draw the world's attention to the injustice of Australia's racist and inhumane mandatory detention system and treatment of asylum seekers.
Detention Centres, Solitary Confinement
On Friday night the NSW Council for Civil Liberties awarded Sydney solicitor John Marsden honorary life membership. Julian Burnside was invited to make the speech in Marsden's honour. In the course of his speech, Burnside referred to the unregulated use of solitary confinement in Australia's immigration detention centres, criticising it as inhumane and also as unlawful.
MP urges asylum seekers' release
A federal Coalition MP has called for the release of all asylum seekers being held in immigration detention centres.
Rau ordeal a raw deal
Ms Rau spent time in a Queensland prison and a hospital before being handed to immigration authorities who kept her in detention for another four months.
Australian held in Baxter detention centre
It has been revealed an Australian resident has been locked up in Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia for the past four months. Authorities had been unable to establish her identity since she was found wandering in far north Queensland last September.
Lawyers want Baxter detainee released for treatment !
Lawyers acting for a hunger-striking detainee inside South Australia's Baxter detention centre have asked the Federal Court to order a psychiatric assessment for the man, saying he needs to be in mental health care, not detention.
Baxter protesters 'being denied water, sleep'?
One of the three Iranian men has been on the roof of the gymnasium since Sunday last week, with two others joining him on Tuesday.
Detainees urged to abandon rooftop protest!
Kathy Verran from Rural Australians for Refugees, says one of the men has since come down and has been taken into the management unit. [solitary confinement for Xmas?]
Advocates warn of detention centre riot risk
A prominent refugee advocate warns South Australia's Baxter Detention Centre is on the brink of a major riot. A protest involving about 25 male detainees broke out at the centre on Tuesday, over a new system which is delaying the process of dispensing medication to detainees.
Villawood detainees go on hunger strike
A refugee advocacy group says up to 200 detainees at the Villawood Detention Centre, in Sydney, have begun a hunger strike to draw attention to their situation ahead of the federal election.
Afghan children lose High Court battle against detention
Lawyers have lost their constitutional challenge to the detention of four children at a South Australian immigration centre. Four siblings from Afghanistan, aged between seven and 15, have been in detention since they arrived in Australia in 2001.
Australia's "GITMO" System
Australia's "GITMO" System In June 2002 on the PM program on ABC radio, PHILIP RUDDOCK is quoted as saying: "Well, let me just say, detention centres are not prisons. They are administrative detention.
Senior cleric damns Baxter as 'disgraceful'
A senior world religious figure has called on the Federal Government to scrap its mandatory detention policy after visiting the Baxter detention centre in South Australia's north.
Detention centre media ban criticised
The Howard Government has been criticised in a report by media freedom advocate Reporters Without Borders for stopping journalists covering the conditions in refugee detention centres.
Baxter detainee continues hunger strike
A detainee at the Baxter detention centre near Port Augusta in South Australia has been on a hunger strike for a week. Sri Lankan Zeldon Daggie, 23, says he has been detained since arriving in Australia four years ago.
Democrats to keep up pressure over asylum seekers
The Australian Democrats will maintain their pressure on the next federal government over Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, if the party can retain its strength in the Senate.
Don't rock the Boat Howard!
PRIME Minister John Howard today denied the children overboard affair had swayed the 2001 election? Mr Howard has spent the week defending himself against claims he had been informed that nobody in Defence believed children had been thrown overboard by asylum seekers.