22 refugees leave Australian ship: Indonesia police

TANJUNG PINANG, November 13, 2009 (AFP) – A group of 22 Sri Lankan asylum seekers left an Australian customs ship to come ashore in Indonesia Friday, police said, partially easing a standoff which began last month. The group, who were among a total of 78 ethnic Tamils on the Oceanic Viking anchored off Bintan island near Singapore, left by ferry for immigration detention, local police intelligence chief Zainal Arifin told AFP.

“At 3.15 pm (0815 GMT), 22 Sri Lankan migrants (all men) left the Oceanic Viking and were taken by Mutiari ferry to immigration detention at Tanjung Pinang,” Arifin said by mobile phone text message.

The migrants were part of a group that had refused to leave the ship after being plucked from the sea by the Australians in Indonesia’s search-and-rescue zone last month and taken to Indonesia.

The Sri Lankans, who have already had their refugee claims accepted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, have been assured of rapid resettlement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said.

Asked if resettlement would be in Australia, Faizasyah said: “I believe so.” He added that the Oceanic Viking had been granted permission to stay in Indonesian waters for a