Indonesia remains active in ASEAN stability with the Rohingya Case
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Indonesia remains active in ASEAN stability with the Rohingya Case

Jakarta : Indonesia | Aug 05, 2012 at 6:04 PM PDT
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a press statement at his Cikeas residence on 4th August on the situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. This was conducted before he held an annual Iftar with his Majelis Zikir of 500 people that evening.

According to setkab.go.id, the Majelis Zikir had been established by President SBY in 2004 and now had representatives nationwide, with an expected 2 million members. "there is no other President in the world today that has established a running Majelis zikir as SBY has" the ustad said during his brief sermon.

Remains active

The President also took this opportunity to share his views on the Rohingya ethnic, where for the past 2 weeks Indonesian media, observers and even parliamentarians had clamoured on the matter, despite possessing little information and understanding.

"This late afternoon I wish to give an explanation for the Indonesian people nationwide on an issue that has lately become a great interest to the public. Although it does not relate directly to us nor occur in Indonesia, the matter of Rohingya ethnics in Myanmar, I still wish to provide a more comprehensive and wholesome explanation so that Indonesian will better know" President SBY explained.

On the concerns that the government is not taking an active approach on the matter. "the government is also concerned, not just that, but we have, still are, and continue to conduct efforts, through diplomacy or other efforts relating to the humanitarian situation of the Rohingya ethnic in Myanmar" SBY underlined.

President SBY underlined the fact that not the Government nor the President remains silence on the matter, and also the misleading statements on ASEANs chairmanship

"two things that are mistaken: the government does not stay silent, and we continue to work. And the chair of ASEAN is not the President of Indonesia, but the Prime Minister of Cambodia" SBY clarified.

For the high spirit of solidarity demonstrated by Indonesians towards the conditions of the Rohingya, SBY welcomed these expressions while inviting them to be more properly directed.

"However I wish for Indonesians, when there are demonstrations of solidarity by a group of Indonesians that posssess a strong sense of humanitarian solidarity, I hope these expressions may concise" SBY added

On the Rohingya case itself, the President explained the background and the complexity of the matter.

"What is occuring is a communal conflict, horizontal between the Rohingya and the Rakhai (Rakhine) similar to what occured in our country a few years ago in Poso and Ambon. Coincidentally the Rohingya are Muslim, whereas their Rakhai are Buddhist. The Rohingya in truth originated from Bangladesh, although they are fourth generation and have been present in Myanmar, but the policies of the the Government of Myanmar have not recognized one of the 135 ethnics in that country. It's true that last May and June there was a intense conflict between the two ethnics that resulted in the death of 77 people, not like was was reported in the media, of thousands of deaths. There were 109 wounded, 5000 homes damaged or burn and 17 Masjids damaged a d 15 monasteries damaged" SBY explained further.

"There are the serious communal conflict, there were many refugees from the Rohingya at 28000 persons at the refugee camps now reaching 53000. Where the Rakhai refugees have some reached 24000. Indeed there is an impression the Rakhai refugees are treated better by the Myanmar government. Whereas conversely, the Rakhai perceive the UN to have greater attention to the Rohingya. There is jealousy in the handling of either communities. And up to this point, there are no indications of genocide. One thing that the people of Indonesia must know is that although the Rohingya are from Bangladesh, and yet during the Rakhai Rohingya conflict, the government of Bangladesh chose not to be involved, not to support its own ethnic Rohingya. Infact, during the clashes they closed their borders" SBY described.

"Earlier this afternoon, I spoke directly with our Ambassador in Myanmar to listen to his views and explanation on the situation in a truthful, wholesome and objective manner. Infact the Government of Myanmar is striving to overcome the situation. We know that the government of Myanmar now is in the midst of serious efforts to conduct democratization, reconciliation with opposing parties, and in nation-building amongst all components in Myanmar after holding general elections a while ago, followed by efforts in reconciliation" SBY explains

The perceived discrimination of the Government of Myanmar to the Rohingya is similar to the accusations made against Indonesia during the Poso Ambon communal conflicts. But SBY underlined that the Myanmar government had taken significant measures after the May June clashes by establishing an investigative committee, invited and cooperated with the UNHCR, and the WFP, and in March they dispatched a team to Indonesia, comprising representatives of the Myanmar Human rights commission, and the Myanmar Human rights commission for Women and Children to hold a comparative study on Indonesia's experience in protecting the human rights, especially of women and children, and communal conflict resolution.

With this significant development in the region, President SBY explained Indonesia's consistently active role in bridging for stability and peace. With the Rohingya case, Indonesia has voiced its views at multilateral and regional forums, in the UN, ASEAN and other forums. Bilaterally, Indonesia has also been active in diplomatic and cooperation efforts. Specifically for Rohingya, when many countries in Central Asia denied the arrival of these refugees and asylum seekers, Indonesia accepted them and to date have recorded 270 asylum seekers, 124 Rohingya refugees, where Indonesia is working closely with the UN and other international Organizations, to help resolve their status. While Indonesia continues to provide humanitarian support.

"Last night, I prepared a letter, God-willing it will be received by President Thein Sein, as it reflects Indonesia's hopes to the government of Myanmar to resolve the situation of the Rohingya ethnic as amicable as possible" SBY revealed. "I proposed that after Myanmar invited the UN and foreign diplomats, to also invite countries from the OIC, and for the OIC to visit directly the sites to better understand the situation, many my hopes that the OIC, the UN, ASEAN, especially Indonesia and Myanmar can cooperate to produce a positive solution" SBY described.

The President also hoped that Myanmar would continue to protect its minorities, and rebuild the devastated villages bearing in mind the conditions of the Rohingya refugee camps. With this, Indonesia was ready to assist in cooperation and humanitarian support, just as Indonesia had conducted for years in supporting the countries democratization and the successful general elections in Myanmar where the world recognised the real change and continued democratization.

widyanto juniardhie is based in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia, and is a Stringer for Allvoices.
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