Indonesia Relocates Rejected Rohingya Refugees Stranded on Beach

Indonesia Relocates Rejected Rohingya Refugees Stranded on Beach
Image copyright: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office/Flickr [via Wikimedia Commons]

The Facts

  • Authorities in Indonesia's Aceh province agreed on Wednesday to move a group of 219 Rohingya refugees by ferry from a beach to a temporary shelter in Lhokseumawe, in coordination with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, after locals threatened to force them back to sea.

  • The latest arrivals, mostly women and children, came ashore reportedly weak and malnourished on Tuesday night near Sabang, off the northern tip of Sumatra island, taking total arrivals of members of Myanmar's Muslim minority in Indonesia to more than 1K over the past week.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

The Rohingya people have desperately risked their lives crossing the ocean for years, trying to find a safe place to live after suffering human rights abuses in Myanmar. This crisis has exposed structural flaws in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as its rules made it possible for Myanmar to prevent regional powers from investigating the scale of human rights abuses and taking action to halt them.

Establishment-critical narrative

It's hypocritical to criticize solely ASEAN when Western democracies have done nothing to help the Rohingya — even though the International Court of Justice has long called for measures to protect those persecuted. While this is likely to be a consequence of fears that Myanmar would strengthen ties with Beijing if pressed, not acting to preserve the universal validity of human rights can only damage the West's reputation — the plight of the Rohingya at sea is the world's responsibility.

Establishment split



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