Indonesia mounts Rohingya pressure, urges repatriation

With fresh pressure on Myanmar over the alleged genocide that had driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya minorities out of the country, Indonesia urged the international community to stop “pointing fingers” at the Buddhist-majority country and build trust through dialogue instead.

Myanmar was faced last week with renewed pressure internationally over a 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingya, which UN investigators insisted was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

The pressure came after Gambia moved to hold Myanmar accountable for the refugee crisis, saying they would bring the case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The UN General Assembly adopted on Thursday a resolution on the human rights situation for Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, filed by the United Arab Emirates and Finland on behalf of the OIC and the EU. It was followed by an announcement that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had approved a prosecution request to investigate crimes against humanity, which was rejected by Myanmar.

Then over the weekend, the OIC condemned the “inhumane” situation of the minority and urged Myanmar to put an end to the violence.

The moves were partly a result of efforts devised by the OIC contact group on Myanmar, which had focused on drafting strategies to deal with the Rohingya refugee crisis, said Kamapradipta Isnomo, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Organisations for Developing Countries director.

“There is a sense of solidarity with the Rohingya refugees to pressure Myanmar, but Indonesia was the only OIC member that took a different approach – we have to build trust and confidence in Myanmar so that they want to open up to us,” Kamapradipta told the Jakarta Post on Monday.

“Pointing fingers isn’t going to work . . . but the overwhelming majority of the OIC is intent on pressuring Myanmar through the ICJ.”

Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN said the resolution “grossly mischaracterised” the complex issues in Rakhine state that involved cross-border migration, poverty, lack of rule of law and security.

Separately, the chairman of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, said Indonesia played a significant role in establishing a bridge between Myanmar, Southeast Asia and the international community so that everyone was able to get a full picture of the conflict.

“Indonesia should talk to Vietnam and reach a common understanding on the issue, so that Vietnam may persuade other CMLV [Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam] countries [on how] to communicate with the international community,” he said.

However, even in spite of its continued support for Myanmar, Indonesia’s efforts bilaterally and regionally have yet to succeed in helping along the repatriation push – Rohingya refugees are still reluctant to return to a country that denies it the right to citizenship.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, Myanmar’s ambassador to Indonesia Ei Ei Khin Aye said her country was committed to ensuring security in the repatriation process but added that “prejudice would delay” the effort and make the situation more difficult for her government.

The repatriation, she said, would depend on understanding from both sides. She insists it was still very difficult for her government to meet the Rohingya’s demands for citizenship.