This composition includes strange chords that reflect the asylum-seekers’ sense of being stranded on the water, of being nowhere. It is a cry for help.
– Slava Grigoryan
MV Tampa lifebuoy
Grigoryan Brothers – This is Us series 02 Mar 2021
This lifebuoy was part of the safety equipment used on the MV Tampa, a container ship owned and operated by the Norwegian shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen.
In August 2001 the ship’s crew rescued hundreds of asylum-seekers, mainly Hazaras from Afghanistan, from a stranded Indonesian fishing boat in international waters off Christmas Island and attempted to bring them to Australia.
The asylum-seekers became stranded on the Tampa when it was refused entry into Australian Territorial Waters. Many were in poor health, so the ship’s captain decided to enter Australian waters after making repeated requests for assistance. The government responded by dispatching 45 SAS troops to board the ship and prevent it from sailing any closer to Christmas Island.
The ‘Tampa Crisis’ became a pivotal issue in the 2001 federal election campaign. As a result the Commonwealth Government enacted the ‘Pacific Strategy’ as a series of bills intended to strengthen border control and national security.
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