Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Aceh sends Jakarta a petition: cut all ties with Myanmar until the Rohingya are treated fairly

Bravo Aceh! The Rohingya refugee crisis has spurred human rights activists, normally timid and discouraged by provincial government officials, to join together to protest the inhumane treatment of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar.

Today’s Andalou Agency post reports that “At a press conference to launch its plea Monday, the Coalition for Caring for Rohingya urged the government to act decisively against Myanmar's government, which it said had played a key role in the humanitarian crisis faced by [the] Muslim ethnic group.”

‘This is not a sectarian conflict, and not a horizontal conflict... this happened because of strong support from the Myanmar government on some violent actions such as murder, slaughter, and destruction,’ Coalition Chairman Adnin Armas told reporters.

Coalition for Caring for Rohingya is made up of members from several communities in Aceh, where there are currently 1062 refugees in Aceh Utara and Aceh Timur, who have been living in camps since the latest wave of refugees arrived two months ago.

The group is petitioning President Jokowi to reconsider Indonesia's relations with Myanmar, and demands Indonesian businessmen and state companies suspend investments in the country. It also calls for the revocation of Myanmar’s membership in ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].
The petition will be posted to the House of Representatives and given President to Jokowi tomorrow; members of the group are also asking that the Rohingya be allowed to stay in Aceh until all issues with Myanmar are resolved.

While I don’t expect Jokowi to issue edicts cutting ties with Myanmar, I’ll be paying close attention to see what he does do, and how he publicly addresses this petition.  It is, after all, the ASEAN neighbors of Myanmar who will make the biggest impression; hopefully the threat of economic losses will sway Myanmar; ethics and human compassion certainly hasn’t done much.

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