Indonesian Navy forces boat carrying Rohingya refugees to depart

Amidst escalating hostility faced by refugees from Myanmar, an Indonesian navy vessel in Aceh reportedly drove away a boat carrying Rohingya refugees, a Myanmar persecuted minority.

Refugees boat, to give an example of the Rohingya refugees boat

This report was given by military spokesperson Nugraha Gumilar. The encounter took place in the waters near Weh Island, off Sumatra.

Nugraha Gumilar indicated that the Indonesian military vessel monitored and “shadowed” the boat, believed to be carrying Rohingya refugees, until it sailed beyond Indonesian waters with no intent of returning. However, there remains no official estimation regarding the number of Rohingya aboard the vessel.

Efforts to gather comments from Indonesia’s foreign ministry were redirected to the coordinating ministry for political, legal, and security affairs, which had yet to respond at the time of inquiry.

Since November, the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNCHR) reported over 1,500 Rohingya arrivals in Indonesia, met with heightened hostility and rejection from locals discontented with the increasing influx of boats.

A disturbing incident unfolded when a substantial assembly of Indonesian students stormed a convention center in Aceh housing hundreds of Rohingya, vehemently demanding their deportation. The UNHCR expressed profound concern over the mob attack on a refuge for vulnerable refugee families.

For years, Rohingya individuals have fled Myanmar, a country where they are often viewed as foreign intruders from South Asia, denied citizenship, and subjected to widespread abuse. Typically, Rohingya seek refuge in Indonesia or neighboring Malaysia between November and April, a period characterized by calmer seas.

Despite not being a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees, Indonesia has historically welcomed refugees who arrive on its shores. The country, known as the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has previously accommodated refugees, albeit without formal obligations under the refugee convention.

Taking a proactive stance, Indonesia has urged Myanmar authorities to cease violence against Rohingya Muslims and has pledged to crack down on suspected human traffickers associated with the recent surge in arrivals.

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