At around noon Australian Eastern Standard time, Indonesia immigration and police arrested around 12 Sudanese refugees (including two children) who had been holding a peaceful, indefinite protest vigil outside the UNHCR offices in Makassar, Indonesia.
Those arrested are being transported to the Makassar Immigration Detention Center.
The Makassar protest was part of national mobilisations by Sudanese refugees in Indonesia demanding urgent action to resettle Sudanese refugees who have been in Indonesia for up to 12 years.
There are around 60 Sudanese refugees (including 18 children) in Makassar and around 500 altogether in Indonesia.
The Makassar vigil began on 23 May, following protests held in Makassar, Jakarta and Batam on 17 May.
Resettlement of Sudanese refugees out of Indonesia has been essentially non-existent since 2013. But their situation has become even more urgent with the civil war currently raging between Sudanese generals. It is obvious they cannot return and their families are in even greater danger there.
“Our situation is very difficult,” Mohidin, one of the refugees who was arrested with his family, told RAC, “We don’t know what will happen to us. We can get no answer from the UNHCR for the past eight days. We got no answer from them today also.”
Just eight Sudanese refugees were accepted for settlement from Makassar three years ago (five by the US), but they are still in Makassar three years later!
One Sudanese refugee who was accepted for resettlement in the US in 2016 is still waiting in Indonesia.
Shamefully, Australia maintains the ban on accepting refugees from Indonesia imposed by the Morrison government in 2014.
“The emergency situation in Sudan demands an urgent response from the Australian government,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The Australian government should immediately lift its ban on Sudanese refugees in Indonesia and make arrangements to bring them safely to Australia.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.
(Contact for Sudanese spokesperson in Indonesia, and Australia, and video clip of the arrested refugees available on request)