Thursday, October 12, 2006

Canberra asylum seeker memorial in jeopardy

Catholic News reports "Dozens of Catholic schools participating in the preparation of a Canberra memorial to the 353 people who drowned in the SIEV X asylum seeker boat tragedy in 2001 are still awaiting for word from authorities as to whether their planned three week exhibition can go ahead.

SIEV X, an acronym for "Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X", is the name given to the overloaded Indonesian fishing boat carrying asylum seekers that sank en route to Australia's Christmas Island on 19 October 2001 at the height of the Government's harsh border protection operations.

353 people - mostly women and children - drowned in the worst maritime disaster in our region since World War II.

According to a media release by the SIEV X Memorial Committee, permission has so far only been given for a one day ceremony to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy planned for this Sunday 15 October.

Large wooden poles decorated by school students around the country will be raised to show the planned design of a permanent memorial.

The design features a procession of poles from the water's edge and stretching over 300 metres of hillside at Weston Park in Yarralumla. The poles are each named for one of the children and parents who died on the vessel, and each pole is an individual artwork sent by a different school, church or community group."

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