Rohingya crisis: Indonesia offers to ease Bangladesh’s burden

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims rally outside the Myanmar Embassy in central Jakarta on Wednesday to protest the violent crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. (AN photo)
Updated 08 September 2017

Rohingya crisis: Indonesia offers to ease Bangladesh’s burden

JAKARTA: Nearly 10,000 Indonesian Muslims staged a demonstration outside the Myanmar Embassy in central Jakarta on Wednesday to protest the violent crackdown against Rohingya Muslims.
The protesters also urged Indonesia to sever its bilateral ties with Myanmar.
Police had put up barbed wires around the embassy perimeter to prevent the protesters from getting closer to its building in the upscale Menteng area while traffic was rerouted as a precautionary measure.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Arab News at the rally that security had been stepped up around the embassy since last week.
Protesters held a moment of prayers for the victims of the ongoing military crackdown. Others were seen smacking on an effigy that donned a mask of Ashin Wirathu, the hard-line Buddhist monk. Some of the protesters demanded the police to take down the Myanmar flag from the embassy compound. They also burned Myanmar flags.
Ade Bhakti, executive director of the Jakarta-based Center for Radicalism and Deradicalization Studies, who was observing the rally, told Arab News that the Rohingya issue “is fluid and touches upon various elements in Indonesia.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, meanwhile, concluded her two-country diplomatic trip in Dhaka to seek solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis. Marsudi arrived in Dhaka earlier in the day after visiting Myanmar on Monday.
In Myanmar, she held talks with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun, Myanmar Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. U Min Aung Hlaing and two other ministers. The talks were aimed at easing tension in Rakhine state and boosting humanitarian aid to communities affected by the conflict.
Marsudi also held bilateral talks with her Bangladeshi counterpart Mahmood Ali and representatives of UN refugee agency UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Dhaka.
During her meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Marsudi said she conveyed Indonesia’s appreciation of Bangladesh for coping with a massive influx of Rohingya refugees into its territory.
“In accordance with President Joko Widodo’s directives, Indonesia is offering support to the Bangladeshi government to ease its burden in handling this humanitarian crisis,” Marsudi said in a video statement from Dhaka, made available to journalists in Indonesia by the Foreign Ministry on late Tuesday.
She said Sheikh Hasina welcomed Indonesia’s gesture to support Bangladesh in tackling the refugee crisis. The Indonesian ambassador in Dhaka will hold a follow-up meeting with Bangladeshi authorities to discuss more details on Indonesia’s role, the minister added.
During her bilateral talks, Marsudi said Ali briefed her about the challenges faced by the refugee camps. She said the representatives of UNHCR and IOM confirmed those challenges during her talks with them.
It was Marsudi’s second visit to Bangladesh to address the Rohingya crisis that has caused tension on both sides of the border.
In December 2016, she met Ali to promote communications between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The two foreign ministers then visited the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
During her meeting with Suu Kyi on Monday, Marsudi proposed 4+1 formula to end to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state.
Marsudi also described her trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh as “marathon diplomacy for humanity.”
The minister said her Dutch, Iranian, and British counterparts had contacted her during the course of her trip to express their support for Indonesia’s diplomatic efforts to address the Rohingya crisis.


Indian president disregards protests, signs citizenship bill into law

Updated 28 min 25 sec ago

Indian president disregards protests, signs citizenship bill into law

  • The new law lays out a path of Indian citizenship for six minority religious groups from the neighboring countries
  • The law seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled the three Muslim-majority neighboring countries

NEW DELHI: A divisive citizenship bill has been signed into law in India, a move that comes amid widespread protests in the country’s northeast that could force the cancelation of a visit by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Two people were killed and 11 injured on Thursday when police opened fire on mobs in Assam state torching buildings and attacking railway stations. Protesters say the law would convert thousands of illegal immigrants into legal residents.
The new law lays out a path of Indian citizenship for six minority religious groups from the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the bill late on Thursday, signing it into law, an official statement said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has planned to host Abe at a meeting in Assam next week as part of a campaign to move high-profile diplomatic events outside Delhi to showcase India’s diversity.
Japan’s Jiji Press reported on Friday that Abe is considering canceling his trip. India’s foreign ministry said it was not in a position to comment on the visit which was originally planned for Dec 15-17.
A movement against immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh has raged in Assam for decades. Protesters say granting Indian nationality to more people will further strain the resources of the tea growing state and lead to the marginalization of indigenous communities.
Japan has stepped up infrastructure development work in Assam in recent years which the two sides were expected to highlight during the summit. Abe had also planned to visit a memorial in the nearby state of Manipur where Japanese soldiers were killed during World War Two.
Critics of Modi’s Hindu nationalist government say the bigger problem with the new law is that it is the first time India is using religion as a criterion for granting citizenship and that it excludes Muslims from its ambit.
The law seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled the three Muslim-majority neighboring countries before 2015.
The Indian Union Muslim League party has petitioned the Supreme Court saying the law was in conflict with the secular principles of India’s constitution that guaranteed equality to all without any regard to religion. No date has yet been set for the hearings.
The party said the law is “prima facie communal” and questioned the exclusion of minorities such as Rohingya Muslims who were just as persecuted as other faiths listed in the law.