A crowd of Indonesian university students stormed a temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in the western city of Banda Aceh, demanding their eviction.
The students wore jackets with the insignia of various Indonesian universities. Footage of Wednesday’s incident showed the refugees being taken away and loaded onto trucks. Some residents carried their belongings with them in plastic bags.
What triggered the incident?
The government-owned hall housed some 137 Rohingya refugees. The students demanded that the refugees be transferred to a local immigration office and then deported.
They chanted “Expel them” and “Throw the Rohingya back to Aceh,” while women and children cried and praying men looked at the ground.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) condemned the incident, which it said was sparked by a coordinated online campaign of disinformation and hate speech.
“The crowd broke a police cordon and forcibly placed 137 refugees in two trucks, then transferred them to another location in Banda Aceh. The incident left the refugees shocked and traumatized,” he added .
Why are Rohingya refugees fleeing to Indonesia?
The Rohingya, the Muslim people living in western Myanmar, have fled the Asian country due to discrimination and abuse.
They use boats to seek refuge in neighboring Thailand, as well as Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia. Most travel between November and April, when the sea is calmer.
UNHCR figures suggest more than 1,500 Rohingya have landed in Indonesia since November, believed to be the highest number in years. Their arrival sparked growing hostility, with locals frustrated by their growing numbers.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has blamed the latest wave of Rohingya arrivals on human trafficking. However, he pledged to offer them temporary shelter, in cooperation with international organizations.
rmt/dj (AFP, Reuters)
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