Indonesia rejects Rohingya refugees, sends boat to Malaysia | News from the Rohingya
At least 100 people, mostly women and children, aboard a wooden boat supposed to take water refused to take refuge.
Dozens of Rohingya refugees who were intercepted after their boat encountered problems off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province have been sent into Malaysian waters, authorities said.
At least 100 people, mostly women and children, aboard a wooden boat supposed to take on water were denied asylum in Indonesia and pushed to neighboring Southeast Asia. East.
Despite calls from non-governmental organizations and the United Nations agency for the refugees to be accepted, Indonesian authorities are trying to return the group after providing supplies, clothing and fuel, as well as a technician to repair their damaged boat.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Navy official Dian Suryansyah said the Rohingya were not Indonesian citizens and the military could not “just bring them in as refugees.”
“This is in line with government policy,” he added.
The wooden boat was first sighted two days ago, stranded about 70 nautical miles (130 km) off the coast of Indonesia, according to a local navy commander.
The Rohingya face widespread discrimination in Myanmar.
A military-backed campaign that the United Nations said amounted to genocide saw hundreds of thousands of Rohingya cross the border into Bangladesh in 2017, where they have since lived in sprawling refugee camps.
Indonesian authorities did not push back the Rohingya refugees as strongly as Malaysia or Thailand, instead reluctantly accepting them when they arrived by sea.
Amnesty International and UNHCR have called on the government to allow the stranded group of Rohingya refugees to disembark.
Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director Usman Hamid told Al Jazeera that Indonesia was violating its international obligation to return refugees.
“[Indonesia’s] the decision to return a damaged boat to Malaysia is inadmissible… international law clearly imposes on States, including Indonesia, the obligation to protect the human rights of refugees arriving on their coasts, ”he said from Jakarta.
Hamid said officials from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry expressed reluctance to help Rohingya stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic, believing Hamid to be wrong.
“I think Indonesia can still apply strict sanitary protocol rules in order to prevent disease or the spread of disease without pushing them back to the high seas,” he added.
UNHCR also called on Jakarta to let passengers disembark from the boat, stressing the boat’s unseaworthiness.
Badruddin Yunus, a leader of the local fishing community, told AFP news agency that fishermen who visited the boat reported that there were 120 people on board, including 51 children and 60 women.
He said the engine was broken and the refugees could not communicate with local fishermen due to the language barrier.
Last year, hundreds of Rohingyas who fled persecution in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar arrived in Indonesia.
Many have since escaped to Malaysia, attracted by its large population of over 100,000 Rohingya.