Tuesday, May 26, 2015


   Jakarta, May 26, 2015 (Antara)-  The Rohingya crisis has spiraled out of control and affected the Southeast Asian region, with thousands risking their lives and several others dying at sea while attempting to evade prosecution, discrimination, and poverty in Myanmar.
       Currently, more than 1,750 Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees are being accommodated in four temporary shelters in Aceh Darussalam province after being rescued from sea by the local fishermen.
       Of the total, 564 are in Punteut, Blang Mangat sub-district, in Lhokseumawe city, North Aceh; 672 are in Kuala Langksa, Langsa; 476 are in Bireun Bayeun, Rantau Selamat sub-district, East Aceh district; and 47 others are in Aceh Tamiang district.
       The Aceh provincial administration and people have helped to accommodate them, provide them with food and clothing, and have given medical treatment to those who are ill, after being adrift at sea for nearly three months.          

  Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated in Jakarta, on May 25, 2015, that the government has decided to provide temporary shelters to the Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds.

       The Indonesian government is optimistic of eventually garnering support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
         In connection with the handling of the refugees, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, in a tripartite meeting recently held in Kuala Lumpur, had agreed to accommodate them on humanitarian grounds, he added.
       The social affairs ministry has provided aid worth Rp2.3 billion to help the Rohingya asylum seekers.
       The donation comprises emergency tents, mattresses, food, blankets, family kits, and kids wear.
         "The aid was given in the form of goods," Director of Social Protection of Natural Disaster Victims of the Social Affairs Ministry Margowiyono affirmed in Aceh on May 24, 2015.  
    The donation was presented by Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa during her visit to the shelters in Langsa and East Aceh.
         Indonesia's Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon, accompanied by Fadhlullah of Commission VI of the House of Representatives (DPR), and Firmandez and Professor Bachtiar Aly of Commission I, visited the Rohingya refugees in Kuala Langsa, Aceh, on May 25, 2015.
         The DPR will urge the government to raise the Rohingya issue at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) level in a bid to seek a solution, Fadli Zon, a politician from the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) party, emphasized.
        The issue concerning the Rohingya boat people is a humanitarian one that merits global attention, he remarked.
        Leaders of the ASEAN should discuss the Rohingya crisis seriously to prevent its recurrence in the future, he added.
        The protracted Rohingya refugee problem is a setback for the ASEAN, according to Prof. Saifullah, an Islamic social historian.
        "The ASEAN has been busy with ceremonial activities held at luxurious venues and has failed to address the real problems being faced by its people," the professor of the State Islamic Institute (IAIN) of Imam Bonjol remarked in Padang, West Sumatra, on May 25, 2015.
       Every ASEAN member country has to protect its citizens and treat them fairly. However, unfortunately, the ASEAN has rarely discussed and shed light on the problems concerning the refugees and minority who are prosecuted, he affirmed.
       The fate of the Rohingya minority living in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, a member country of the ASEAN, has been ignored so far, he noted.
        The United Nations and ASEAN should apply pressure on the Myanmar government to stop prosecuting Rohingya Muslims, he urged.     
  The Rohingya tragedy is a humanitarian crisis happening in the ASEAN and has drawn global attention.
          There are approximately 1.33 million Rohingyas living in northern Arakan-Rakhine State Myanmar, but the country's 1982 Citizenship Law denies them citizenship, in spite of the fact that the Rohingya community has lived in Myanmar for generations.
        Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its World Report 2014 on Myanmar wrote that communal violence against Muslim communities in Central Myanmar spread during 2013, with a series of apparently coordinated attacks against Muslim communities and their properties.
       In late March 2013, Burmese Buddhist mobs attacked Muslim communities in Meiktila, a town in central Myanmar. At least 44 people were killed, and 1.4 thousand mostly Muslim-owned businesses and houses were destroyed.
         "The Burmese police forces failed to intervene during much of the violence, and in most cases did not act to protect the lives or properties of Muslims, and in some instances, they actively participated in the anti-Muslim violence," HRW stated in its annual report last year.
       Chief of Indonesia's Crescent and Star Party (PBB) Yusril Ihza Mahendra has called on the Indonesian government to sponsor an international conference on the Rohingya ethnic group.
       "To settle the human tragedy faced by the Rohingya ethnic group, we should not only deal with the Rohingya refugees but also take joint political and diplomatic steps to pressure Myanmar into solving their domestic problem," he affirmed in a written statement released on May 23, 2015.
        Mahendra, who is also a state administrative law expert, remarked that the people and government of Myanmar tend to discriminate against ethnic minorities in the country, either the Rohingyas, who are Muslims, or the Karen, who are Catholics.
        The discrimination violates humanitarian principles and is a denial of pluralism in the modern world, he noted.
       "But, in the past three decades, the military government of Myanmar has turned a blind eye to violence against the ethnic group in the country," Mahendra pointed out.
        He further called on both the ASEAN and the international community to take diplomatic, political, and economic steps to lay pressure on Myanmar.
        As a prominent politician in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has been urged to play an active role in addressing the Rohingya crisis.
         Director of Indonesian National Policy Studies (CINAPS) Guspiabri Sumowigeno noted that San Suu Kyi is a world-renowned activist advocating human rights and democracy. Hence, she should also help address the issue of Rohingyas migrating from her country.
         The final solution to the refugee crisis lies in the hands of Myanmar as the Rohingya minority community tried to flee from their own country due to political, social, and economic discrimination, he said recently.
       Aung San Suu Kyi, a Noble Prize recipient, has a strong influence in her country and has the potential to help solve the problem.
        However, she has distanced herself from the issue so far, and this stance should be questioned by all parties, Sumowigeno remarked.
        Her silence is deplorable, and her fight for democracy and human rights could be a political cover-up, Sumowigeno noted.
      "This is the time to question the moral legitimacy of the Nobel laureate for peace and of all members of the jury that picked her," he stated.
       Member of the Presidential Advisory Council Hasyim Muzadi has urged the government to discuss the fate of Rohingya asylum seekers currently stranded in Indonesia with Myanmar.
        "The most important step is to help them first, for humanitarian sake. We agree to allocate the state budget to the concerned institutions. So, firstly, we should accommodate them and then conduct diplomacy with Myanmar," he remarked, on May 25, 2015.
       "Tell them, hai Myanmar, many of your citizens are now in Indonesia," the former chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), affirmed.
       In the meantime, Chairman of the East Java branch of the Ansor Youth Movement Rudi Tri Wachid called on the government to sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar and to recall the Indonesian ambassador to Myanmar.
        The United Nations (UN) should also impose sanctions on Myanmar, he categorically stated.
        "The humanitarian tragedy of the Rohingya ethnic minority group is imminent. Thousands of them have lost their lives, and thousand others are adrift, suffering from starvation," he added.
         The Rohinga minority should be granted their human rights and protection, he noted.
         "The Rohingya tragedy should not be viewed as a religious issue since it is more of an ethnic genocide," he remarked.
(T.F001/A/BESSR/A. Abdussalam) 26-05-2015 18:37:04

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