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    Indonesian President to Discuss Violence against Rohingya on Burma Visit

    Indonesia’s
    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono talks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in
    Singapore on April 23, 2013, ahead of his visit to Burma. (Photo: Reuteres /
    Edgar Su)

    Irrawaddy News
    April 23, 2013
    Persecution of the
    Rohingya ethnic group in Burma is expected to be raised by Indonesian President
    Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his visit to the country on Wednesday.
    “Indonesia hopes
    the Myanmar [Burma] government will handle the Rohingya issue wisely and
    fairly,” Yudhoyono said at a Jakarta airport on Monday ahead of his departure
    to Singapore. “We want to continue helping to reach a positive outcome.”
    Aleksius Jemadu,
    the dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political
    Sciences, said Yudhoyono’s leadership on the issue was essential.
    “Indonesia has been
    seen as a leader at the regional level and leaders need to take action to solve
    problems,” he told the Jakarta Globe.
    Indonesian Foreign
    Minister Marty Natalegawa has also vowed to raise the topic when he meets his
    Burmese counterpart at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in
    Brunei later this week.
    “We urge the
    Myanmar government to quickly resolve this problem and prevent further
    conflicts from erupting, so that all the people of Myanmar can live in an
    atmosphere of peace,” he said.
    He cited a case
    earlier this month in which a mob of Rohingya migrants, incensed at the ongoing
    violence in their home country, attacked and killed eight Buddhists from Burma
    at an immigration detention center in North Sumatra, citing it as a case of the
    problem spilling over beyond Burma’s borders.
    Ali Akbar Tanjung,
    an activist with the Human Rights Working Group, said the influx of Rohingya
    refugees fleeing fighting in Burma, among other immigrants, had put a strain on
    Indonesia’s immigration system and highlighted the dearth of legislation on how
    to deal with refugees.
    He argued that a
    law specifically addressing this issue would improve and standardize the
    handling of immigrants, and shift the sole burden of responsibility from the Justice
    and Human Rights Ministry’s directorate general of immigration.
    He also emphasized
    the need for destination countries such as Australia and those in Western
    Europe to take immigrants already granted refugee status but for whom the
    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had still not found a willing
    host country.
    “Our position as a
    transit country doesn’t allow us to sit still and do nothing,” Ali said. “We’re
    not a destination country. “That’s why we need to improve communications with
    the countries that are.”
    Yudhoyono is
    scheduled to remain in Singapore for today, and then head to Burma on Wednesday
    and Brunei on Thursday.