9 Apr 2012

Asylum seekers heading for NZ stopped in Darwin

9:32 pm on 9 April 2012

Ten Chinese citizens who plan to sail to New Zealand and seek asylum say they are being held in the Australian city of Darwin.

The group of ten say they left on a boat from Malaysia a month ago bound for New Zealand.

The ABC is reporting that the group, who say they are members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, say they left China at different times but met up in Malaysia.

They arrived in Darwin on Thursday to pick up supplies but claim Australian authorities will not let them leave because of concerns about bad weather and the safety of their vessel.

They have documents which they say prove they are from China and have been given refugee status by the United Nations.

Immigration officials have taken the women and children into care, but some of the men have decided to stay at the terminal near their boat, the ABC reports.

The group say they left China because of persecution.

A spokesperson for Australia's Immigration Minister says some of the group have been given visas that will allow them to replenish their supplies before they all continue on their way.