Indonesia authorizes disembarkation of 120 displaced Rohingyas

Jakarta, Dec 29 (EFE).- The Indonesian authorities authorized the disembarkation of some 120 displaced Rohingyas – an ethnic minority persecuted in Myanmar -, in danger of being shipwrecked in the country’s northeastern part, a local nonprofit told EFE Wednesday.

The ship, which has a broken engine and is leaking, was found on Dec.26 near Aceh province, at the north-eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago, with 10 men on board, while the rest were Rohingya women and children in search of refuge.

Hermanto Hasan, head of the NGO Geutanyoe Foundation, told EFE that the authorities will allow the disembarkation on humanitarian grounds given the risk of the ship capsizing.

Locals groups and fishermen delivered food supplies to the supposed asylum seekers after the vessel was spotted, but Indonesian laws and health protocols against Covid-19 prevented them from landing.

“Because of the previous situation, there were fishermen who were criminalized for helping refugees so they had to be more careful,” said Hasan.

This situation brings back memories of the 2015 refugee crisis, when thousands of Rohingyas were adrift on ships for weeks until the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to let them land on their shores.

The Myanmar authorities do not recognize Rohingyas as citizens and consider them as Bangladeshi immigrants, and have for years subjected them to all kinds of discrimination, including restrictions on freedom of movement.

In August 2017, the Myanmar army launched a military campaign against the Rohingyas in Rakhine State, for which its government faces a genocide charge before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The brutal military operation led to the exodus of more than 725,000 refugees to neighboring Bangladesh, where they continue to live in overcrowded camps, along with other Rohingyas who fled in previous waves of violence. EFE


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