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Stranded Burmese Migrants to Leave Indonesia


Indonesian immigration officials say 77 men from Burma who washed up on Indonesian shores after bad weather blew their boat off course will leave the country as soon as weather permits.

The men, all ethnic Rohingyas, say they were heading to Malaysia to find work as illegal migrants when rains and strong winds threw their boat of course, landing them in Aceh, just off the northern tip of Sumatra island.

Immigration officials say they are satisfied the men are not seeking asylum in Indonesia.

Septiawan, from the immigration office in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, says the men want to leave Indonesia as soon as the stormy weather clears up.

He says the Rohingyas carry no documents and are now in Indonesia as illegal immigrants.

The Rohingyas, who are Muslims in predominately Buddhist Burma, have fled their country by droves in recent years, claiming persecution by the military government.

Indonesian officials are giving the stranded men shelter and food until they are able to leave the country.

Septiawan, the immigration official, says there is no damage to the refugee's boat so they should be able to safely leave when the weather clears up.

He says the men have run out of gasoline and oil for their boat but the local government will help them restock.

Burma has been run by the military for more than four decades and has been accused by many nations, including the United States and the European Union, of committing grave human rights violations against its citizens.

Thousands of Burmese have fled the country seeking sanctuary and work in nearby countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.

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