After being urged by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Indonesia decided to allow a boat carrying Rohingya refugees to dock at the Bireuen waters, Aceh. Previously, the government officials said that they would only provide humanitarian aid to the refugees, not allowing them to seek refuge in the country.
Deputy V for Coordination of Security and Public Order, Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs (Kemenko Polhukam) RI, Armed Wijaya, said the government took the step on humanitarian grounds. “The decision was made after considering the emergency conditions the refugees are experiencing on the boat. Furthermore, most of the passengers are also women and children,” he further added.
As Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees and is not targeted as a destination for permanent refugees resettlement, Indonesia actually has no legal obligations to accept any refugees. Regardless, Indonesia’s decision to finally accept the Rohingya refugees should be appreciated.
The UNHCR representative in Jakarta, Ann Maymann, said: “Indonesia’s decision to allow the refugees to disembark from the stricken boat was a victory for human rights and international law.” “We are extremely grateful to the Indonesian government. It is a decision that we have not seen other governments take with regard to other boats,” she further said.
“It is an example for other countries to follow, both in the Asia Pacific region and also in other parts of the world where boats are being pushed back.”
As we know, the Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, and over 700,000 of them have left Myanmar in August 2017 to avoid persecution and violence. Since then, the Rohingya refugees have flown to neighboring Southeast Asian countries to seek refuge.