Sri Lanka boat migrants end hunger strike

MERAK, October 17, 2009 (AFP) – A group of more than 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers whose boat was stopped in Indonesian waters en route to Australia ended their two-day hunger strike on Saturday, officials said. The group — among which it was the 150 men who were on hunger strike — had accepted food late afternoon after a meeting with Indonesian officials, local immigration chief Harry Purwanto told AFP.

“They have started to eat and drink. Alex said the group apologised for launching the hunger strike. He said it was a wrong move,” he said, referring to the group’s unofficial spokesman.

“Alex also said the hunger strike was not a protest against Indonesia but an appeal to the international community to find a solution for them,” he added.

Indonesian authorities were trying to negotiate with the migrants, who were intercepted in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java islands on October 11 as they headed to Australia in a wooden cargo boat.

Purwanto said two shelters around the port have been readied for the 255 men, women and children “but the migrants wouldn’t move there (from their boat) until they meet someone from UNHCR”, referring to the UN refugee agency.

That will be on Wedne