Rohingya crisis: Indonesia offers to ease Bangladesh’s burden

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata
Fri, 2017-09-08 03:00

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.

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