They were stuck for a week in a broken wooden ship off the coast of Aceh.. For these reasons, the Indonesian authorities delayed receiving Rohingya refugees
After ambiguity in the official Indonesian position for about a week, an Indonesian navy ship towed a broken wooden ship carrying about 120 Rohingya refugees, and it was breached and threatening to sink, according to eyewitnesses. Nearest coast of Indonesia.
Pictures obtained by the island showed the towing of the wooden ship towards the port of Loximawi Prefecture in Aceh (northeast of Sumatra Island). The rescue operation, which took place on Thursday, lasted 13 hours, the first time that the Indonesian Navy intervened to rescue Rohingya refugees from the waters of the Indian Ocean.
Hunters hesitated to the rescue for the first time
Before the Indonesian government took a decision to rescue the ship, sailors and fishermen from Aceh province had seen the ship staggering about 70 miles from the coast of the province, but the authorities did not allow them to withdraw the ship and rescue those on it, and contented themselves with providing them with food supplies, as a number of fishermen mentioned to the media. local.
Clips filmed by fishermen on their phones have spread on social networking sites in the past few days, in which they talk about the situation of the refugees on board the ship, especially since it will not be easy for them to reach Thai or Malaysian waters. .
Subsequently, local and military officials in Aceh province appeared in front of the local media in Pirin province to confirm that the ship was still outside Indonesian waters and not within Indonesia’s legal responsibility, and that they would accompany it towards international waters towards Malaysia so that Indonesian waters would not be an easy crossing for ships illegally, after that. Two days of the ship’s approach to Indonesian waters.
In his position, a local official protested by saying that the destination of the Rohingyas is Malaysia, not Indonesia, based on the experience of Aceh with hundreds or even thousands of Rohingya refugees who had previously come to the region and then gradually left to Malaysia.
The official confirmed that they will provide the refugees with food supplies, drinking water and medicine, and will work to repair the ship’s engine so that they can reach Malaysia.
Aceh seafarers..from rescuers to accused
Since 2009, sailors from Aceh have rescued thousands of Rohingya refugees, as they did not hesitate to withdraw their old wooden ships if they were heading towards fishing ports in the region, but they are now afraid of legal prosecution. Three Acehnese fishermen who rescued a Rohingya refugee ship were convicted last year Charged with human smuggling last June, they were sentenced to 5 years in prison under the Human Smuggling Act.
This ruling sparked a legal and humanitarian controversy over the fishermen, but the authorities accused them of having been in contact with the Rohingya refugees, to help them reach the Indonesian coast and later sail to Malaysia, and the Indonesian authorities do not want its waters to become a conduit for human smuggling, according to local media reports.
At the time, the representative of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, Fazli Zun, said that it was not appropriate for these fishermen to be prosecuted for carrying out humanitarian work, and they should have been rewarded, and a human rights statement indicated that such prosecutions were reflected in the behavior of the Aceh fishermen who kept rescuing those who need help in the water in which they sail while they are fishing.
International and human rights demands
The official Indonesian position – during the past few days – prompted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to express its concern for the lives of the refugees, and demanded that the Indonesian government rescue them or allow them to be disembarked on its territory.
The commission said that according to the fishermen’s testimonies on December 26, the ship was full of women and children, and that its engine had failed and water had leaked into it.
UNHCR reminded the government of the 2016 presidential decree by President Jokowi on the protection of refugees, which authorizes the relevant authorities to rescue and care for refugees who come on boats near Indonesia, noting that this decision has been implemented since 2018, which contributed to the rescue of numbers of refugees. Rohingya refugees who set sail for Indonesia after fleeing persecution, repression and dire humanitarian conditions in their country.
The situation expanded to include 8 Indonesian human rights organizations, and in a detailed statement, these organizations called on the Indonesian government to implement human rights values, coordinate efforts and provide capabilities to rescue Rohingya refugees, and issue an explicit order to allow them to disembark on Indonesian territory on an emergency basis, and to provide them with health and psychological care and housing.
Some 120 Rohingyas finally landed in northern Aceh’s port after weeks in the sea.
The wooded boat had drifted for days off Bireuen district’s Malacca Strait & towed by a navy ship into the port.
They’re sheltered in Lhokseumawe’s BKL#SaveRohingya #AcehLonDarling #JumatBerkah pic.twitter.com/OVmpKqG7Yb
— Nurdin Hasan (@nh_nh_) December 31, 2021
2,413 refugees overseas last year
The statement, which was issued the day before yesterday, Wednesday, stated that the difficult humanitarian conditions of the Rohingya push them to take risks and sail in difficult navigational conditions. In 2020, 2,413 Rohingya sailed by sea, 218 of whom died during a journey lasting sometimes months, from the coasts of Arakan (western Myanmar) or southeast Bangladesh. .
The international and human rights statements and these popular appeals prompted the return of the Indonesian position to its previous era, a week after that ship staggered in international waters near the waters of Indonesia. A statement was issued by Armid Wijaya, Deputy Minister Coordinating for Security, Political and Legal Affairs, confirming that Indonesia would receive Rohingya refugees based on Humanitarian and legal considerations, and in light of this decision, the Indonesian Navy moved.