Government will violate human rights if Rohingya refugees returned to Myanmar

Source – December 6, 2023
Rohingya refugees in North Aceh before being returned to sea – November 16, 2023 (Antara)

Krisiandi, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia says that the Indonesian government will violate human rights if it repatriates Rohingya refugees to their country of origin, Myanmar.

Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said that all countries are obliged to protect anyone that is fleeing repression and persecution in their country of origin.

"If the government's policy is to repatriate the Rohingya refugees to their country of origin, in this case Myanmar, this clearly violates human rights, violates international conventions that oblige countries to protect anyone who is in danger or fleeing repression and persecution in their country of origin", said Hamid when speaking to reporters at the General Elections Commission (KPU) offices in Central Jakarta on Wednesday December 6.

Hamid is of the view that the government does not have to follow the wishes of social groups that are opposing the arrival of the Rohingya refugees in Indonesia.

He is convinced that those opposing the presence of Rohingya refugees in Aceh province only represent a handful of people and it may well be that they are being mobilised by a certain group.

"There are no grounds for the government to reject the Rohingya. I think, if there are social groups who reject them, let it be. But, don't let the government act in accordance with the wishes of these groups", he said.

If the government is unable to accommodate the Rohingya refugees, Hamid suggests that it could cooperate with other countries that usually accept refugees, but not send them back to Myanmar.

According to Hamid, this would be proof of government's consistency in addressing humanitarian issues at the global level.

Because, so far the government has frequently talked about a resolution to the conflict in Myanmar through the Five Point Consensus as well as sending humanitarian aid to many other countries that are involved in conflicts.

"The government must stand firm as a country that holds to values that are enshrined in the constitution, a commitment to build world peace, safeguard humanitarian solidarity, it must act in solidarity with the people of Rohingya, Palestine, Afghanistan without hypocrisy", he said.

As has been reported, Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs and vice presidential candidate Mahfud MD has said that the government will repatriate the Rohingya refugees in Indonesia to their country of origin, Myanmar.

The government has recorded that so far there are 1,147 Rohingya refugees in Indonesia. He added that the government has not actually signed the UN convention on refugees.

"We will meet to discuss how to return them to their country through the UN, because there is a representative [in Indonesia], later I'll lead the meeting", said Mahfud during a visit to the Annida Al Islamy Bekasi Islamic Junior High School (MTsN) on Monday evening, November 4.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty: Pemerintah Langgar HAM jika Kembalikan Pengungsi Rohingya ke Myanmar".]