Indonesia refuses 126 Arakaneses political asylum

Indonesia has refused to grant political asylum to 126 Arakan migrants as the UN Refugee Agency could not take any response to see the detainees three days ago.

Indonesia refuses 126 Arakaneses political asylum

Indonesia has refused to grant political asylum to 126 Arakan migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh as the UN Refugee Agency could not take any response to see the detainees three days ago.

Fears are growing over the fate of 126 Rohingya boat people thought to be in Thai military custody after the government said it no longer had any of the migrants from Myanmar within its borders.

Amid persistent reports of a shadowy arm of the army towing 992 Arakaneses out to sea last month in engine-less boats and leaving them to die, the U.N. refugee agency asked Bangkok on Tuesday to see the 126, most of whom it said were in army custody on an Andaman Sea island.

Survivors also reported being beaten by Thai security forces, and a Arakan rights group said four men who refused to board the boats were thrown into the sea with their hands bound.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangkok said on Friday it was still waiting for a formal response to its request on Tuesday to see the 126.

Thani denied Bangkok was stalling and said officials were "trying to arrange a meeting" with the UNHCR.

Arakaneses are a Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar. UNHCR says as many as 230,000 Arakaneses are now living a perilous, stateless existence just over the border in Bangladesh.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 250,000 Arakaneses fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in 1992 amid a campaign of persecution and what many have labelled "ethnic cleansing" on the part of the government in Naypyidaw.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Jakarta believed 193 survivors who washed up near Aceh on Jan 7 were economic migrants, but was having difficulty working out what to do with them.

"To return 193 people is a decision that we should think about carefully," he said. "We have sent a person who can talk in their Myanmar language but communication has not gone well."

Agencies
Last Mod: 23 Ocak 2009, 18:58
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