05 December 2023

Indonesia urged to continue assistance to rescued Rohingya

File photo - Photo Desk

A Rohingya rights body has requested the Indonesian government to continue its assistance to the rescued Rohingya refugees until appropriate resources are available for them to obtain safe shelter and food resources.

“[We] express sincere gratitude to the people and government of Indonesia for their generous efforts to rescue about 100 Rohingya refugees, who were stranded and in distress at sea in Aceh, and for kindly providing them with temporary shelter and assistance on humanitarian ground,” says the statement issued by the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) on Friday.

The statement terms the act of Indonesia “as a real demonstration of brotherhood, leadership and notable humanitarian gesture.”

So far 94 stranded Rohingya refugees, mostly women (49) and children (30), were rescued by Indonesian police last week after their boat broke down off Indonesia's Aceh province, country’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi said in a virtual meeting on Thursday.

Pointing to safety and security of the traumatized Rohingya after weeks of ordeals in sea, the statement urges the Indonesian authorities to continue its humanitarian assistance to the stressed people.

ARNO also calls upon the leaders within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis and their refugee problem and to pressure the Myanmar government to end the genocide and apartheid in Myanmar that is causing conditions to create opportunities for illicit trafficking networks to flourish in the region affecting the ASEAN and other countries.

“Support the Rohingya people’s rights to be legally recognized as an ethnic minority in Myanmar as well as restoration of full citizenship consistent with other ethnic nationalities of Myanmar.”

Emphasizing on regional unison for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis the statement added: “The region’s efforts continue to be lacklustre in this regard and pushing the Rohingya back out to sea or preventing the ships from docking will not stop or prevent trafficking on the high seas.”

“We ask all countries to provide assistance for legitimate law enforcement programs, which include prosecution of perpetrators, so that human trafficking, a crime against humanity is stopped in the region.”


Perils at sea

In a statement issued on May 15, 2020, the international rights watchdog Amnesty International said that at least 1,000 Rohingya were stranded at sea as Southeast Asian nations tighten their borders to keep out the new coronavirus.

Calling all states for showing humanitarian treatment to the adrift Rohingya, the Amnesty asked to ensure that the persecuted people were not buried in an "invisible graveyard" at sea.

On April 15, Bangladesh coast guard officials rescued one boat of Rohingya refugees which had reportedly been turned away by Malaysia nearly two months earlier. About 390 starving Rohingya, mostly under 20 years old, were brought ashore, with reports that as many as 100 may have died on board before the rescue.


Persecuted community

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down while 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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