Indonesia has criticized Thailand for towing hundreds of Burmese
Muslims out to sea in boats and demanded an end to persecution of
minorities in the region. Almost 400 Rohingya refugees have been
rescued in boats of the coast of Indonesia in the last month.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda says the men have a clear
case for applying for refugee status.
Speaking on Friday Indonesia's foreign minister Hassan
Wirajuda directed several thinly veiled comments towards regional
countries guilty of human rights violations.
Burma, Wirajuda said it was now time for "countries of origin" to stop
abusing minorities and refugees, in accordance with principles of human
rights set out in the new charter of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN). The charter was officially passed into law in December
In a later interview foreign affairs spokesman Teuku Faizasyah repeated the minister's message. "We
look at these problems of the boat people arriving on our shore related
to the problems in countries of origins," he said. "That's why we call
to countries of origins to respect the rights of the minorities."
And there was also this message for countries that refugees travel to as a transit point.
call on the countries were the boats pass, to treat them well and not
to allow them to arrive in other regional countries so it becomes a
regional problem," said Faizasyah.
The Thai government has
vigorously defended the decision by its navy to tow more than 1,000 Rohingya men out to sea. Those who have been rescued claim
they were deserted without engines and little food or water.
says the men are economic migrants and a threat to Thai jobs. In recent
weeks Indonesia also claimed that the Rohingya had left their country
seeking better jobs and could therefore be deported under Indonesian
But in the wake of the arrival of a second boatload and
renewed claims of torture at the hands of the Burmese military regime,
foreign minister Wirajuda said was now considering granting the
Rohingya refugee status. He said the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees would be invited to assess their situation.