The Refugee of The World
Finally, I managed to speak directly with the concerned persons, Mrs. Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi (Indonesian diplomat and the Minister for Foreign Affairs ) and Mr. Richard Mathews (Australian Consulate General in Makassar, Indonesia).
I approached them with the statement in the picture. However, the responses I was given are not quite satisfying and are inconsistent. I predict there will be hardly any durable solution for the Refugees stagnating in legal limbo in Indonesia for 6 to 10 years.
It was confirmed to me that Indonesia will stick with its current policy as a transit country and will never sign the UN 1951 refugees convention. I said that we know that Indonesia is a transit country for refugees, with housing offered on a temporary basis. However, we have been here from 6 to 10 years; how long this temporary condition for refugees will remain in place?
"We, as non-signatory to the Convention, have done all we could by allowing refugees to stay safe in Indonesia. Additionally, we are collaborating with your government for repatriation." said one of the directors of the Minister.
I replied, " we are willing to go back right now. In fact, we Rohingya refugees have asked the UNHCR to repatriate us, but it is not an option as Myanmar refuses to recognise us as citizens, thus making us stateless. However, if you can assure us that we will be granted citizenship and be safe, then we are more than happy to be repatriated right away."
Then he added, “it depends on the Myanmar government. They are very unwilling to relax their position on Rohingya issues." I commented "of course. it is not just Indonesia up to, and in fact, most countries in the world are trying to put pressure on Myanmar, but their policies remain unchanged. I believe it is likely to take a generation for any change to take place in Myanmar."
I asked whether it was the intention of the Indonesian government to keep us in this situation, in which our basic human rights dare totally denied until the problem in Myanmar is solved? He hesitated to answer this question but ultimately said "Yes" and added: "This is all that Indonesia can do. If you don't like it, then it is up to you whether you want to stay or leave."
I then asked Mr. Richard Mathews what is the Australian government’s plan for the refugees in Indonesia, considering the fact that Australia is indirectly responsible for their presence in Indonesia? He answered, "We are donating to IOM to facilitate the refugees' accommodation and other issues and we are also cooperating with Indonesia to allow them to work and access education."
From 2013, Australia has enacted a new refugee deterrence policy called "Operation Sovereign Borders" which has strategically used the refugees in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (on Manus Island) and Nauru is an example n border control, to dissuade asylum seekers from other countries who might consider coming by boat from Indonesia to Australia. Moreover, the key intention of this policy is to keep refugees marooned and oppressed, as the makers of these policies consider that the more the refugees are made to suffer, the more it will deter other asylum seekers from making the journey by boat from Indonesia to Australia.
I again questioned Mr. Mathews regarding the above interpretation and he said: " Well, I agree that our current government is hard on refugees, however, we do resettle small numbers of refugees compared other countries, however, the number of our resettled refugees is greater than Indonesia’s."
Since 2013, only a very tiny number of refugees has been resettled to Australia from Indonesia’s total refugees' population of over 13,000, leaving the rest of them in limbo. Nowadays, refugees in Indonesia are suffering from many kinds of mental disorder and face untimely death caused by frustration, depression, and anxiety as they are given no hope for a safe future.