Indonesia urges ‘voluntary repatriation’ of Rohingya

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Indonesia on Wednesday reiterated the importance of repatriating Rohingya refugees in solving the humanitarian problems they face.

During the 53rd Foreign Minister Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi explained that despite Indonesia’s temporary acceptance of nearly 400 Rohingya refugees stranded off the Aceh coast in recent months, Jakarta supported “voluntary repatriation” of the Muslim minority group to Myanmar.

“Repatriation is the ideal solution to end the suffering of Rohingya people who often make dangerous journeys across the sea,” she said.

Marsudi discussed a repatriation plan with her counterpart from Myanmar and secretary-general of ASEAN, in which she said she “urged voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity.”

ASEAN countries, she continued, must work together in prosecuting transnational crimes as Rohingya refugees are vulnerable to abduction and human trafficking.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012 in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said an OIDA report titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.

As many as 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes burned down while 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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