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Humanitarian mission for Rohingya ‘not enough’

The humanitarian mission to Myanmar
should be further empowered by having the Indonesian government exert
political pressure on Myanmar in order to ensure the protection of
the Rohingya Muslims, lawyers have said.

“We are sending them logistical aid,
treating them as though they were victims of natural disasters, when
what they need most is legal status, adequate livelihoods and a
stable future,” Mahendradatta, one of a team of Muslim lawyers,
said in Jakarta on Saturday.
“The most significant problem is
their legal status, and Indonesia’s government should put more
pressure on the Myanmar government to grant them citizenship,” he

According to data from the Foreign
Ministry, 394 Rohingya have sought refugee status in Indonesia, with
124 of them ready to settle in other third countries.

The remaining 270 displaced persons are
being sheltered at a number of refugee camps in the country.

According to Mahendradatta, the
Indonesian government cannot offer them citizenship because the law
does not allow refugees to apply for citizenship.

“These people have no legal status.
They can’t get jobs. They can’t own land. It is as if they were
living dead,” Mahendradatta said.

“The only way is to force the Myanmar
government to give them legal status, and to ensure their security as
citizens,” he added.

Meanwhile, some of the Rohingya
refugees who are in Indonesia have expressed their refusal to return
home, fearing the ongoing dispute between the Muslims and the
Buddhist majority.

Farouk Husein, 32, arrived in Medan,
North Sumatra, in December 2010 after traveling for months, having
escaped from Rakhine state.

He and his children fled first to
Bangladesh, then moved to Thailand and ended up arriving in
Indonesia, where they are waiting to move on again to seek asylum.

“We are heartened by the fact that
Indonesians have welcomed us so warmly, and we have been given
security and aid. But, please don’t send us home. We are in the
process of seeking asylum in another country,” Husein told The
Jakarta Post.

“I would rather kill myself than
return home and face that torture again,” he added.

Husein is one of 173 Rohingya refugees
who are living in Medan. He said that his brother had been killed in
a clash between Muslims and Buddhists in 1992.

“Some of our people were killed when
they tried to get away; but when I fled to Bangladesh, they just let
us go. It’s as if they no longer want us there in the country,”
said Husein.

Muhammad Kasim, 35, a Rakhine Muslim
who has been in Medan since 2010, said he had left Myanmar to seek a
better future.

“We were living like animals. We had
no legal status. We had identity cards but it was written on them
that we were only living in Myanmar temporarily, even though we were
born there,” Kasim said.

Last week, the Indonesian Red Cross
(PMI) signed a cooperation agreement with the Myanmarese Red Cross to
provide financial and technical assistance for short- and long-term

The PMI, chaired by former vice
president Jusuf Kalla, had also sent personnel and humanitarian aid,
comprising eight staff, 500 sanitary kits, 3,000 blankets and 10,000
sarongs, valued at more than US$100 million. (nad)
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