Media reports estimate that the Indonesian navy and fishing boats rescued as many as 1,000 asylum seekers off its coast near Aceh, on Friday 15th May.
An Indonesian military spokesperson, Major General Fuad Basya, said in a interview with the ABC, Australian’s national broadcaster, that the 200 asylum seekers rescued by the Indonesian’s navy were spotted earlier that morning by fishermen.
The rescue of the Rohingya came after the United Nations High Commission on Refugees released a media statement on Thursday 13th May, voicing its concerns about the alleged treatment of Rohinhyan refugees by both the Malaysian and Indonesian navies earlier this week.
The UNHCR said it was “extremely alarmed at reports suggesting that Indonesia and Malaysia may have pushed back boats carrying vulnerable people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.”
The UNHCR urged “governments to facilitate disembarkation and keep their borders and ports open to prevent a humanitarian crisis at sea.”
Fortify Rights, a human rights organization that has been documenting the persecution of Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya said in a media statement released on Wednesday 13 May that, “Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia should immediately coordinate search and rescue operations for Rohingya asylum seekers and possible survivors of trafficking from Myanmar and Bangladesh who are stranded at sea.”
Fortify Rights urged the three ASEAN member governments to “open their borders to asylum seekers and provide survivors with access to asylum procedures, protection from detention and forced returns, and freedom of movement.”
Human Rights Watch said on Friday this week that Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia’s policy of pushing boats of asylum seekers from Burma back out to sea is‘cold-hearted’.
“The Burmese government has created this crisis with their continued persecution of the Rohingya,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director said, “Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have made things much worse with cold-hearted policies to push back this new wave of ‘boat people’ that puts thousands of lives at risk.”
The Burma Campaign UK issued a statement urging Britain’s Foreign Secretary to take the current Rohingya refugee crisis to the EU Foreign Ministers meeting for discussion.
The Burma Campaign UK stressed that the “European Union should apply pressure on Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia to stop pushing boats of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis back out to sea.”