Refugee protests across Indonesia to mark Refugee Day

Hundreds of refugees, mostly Afghan and Sudanese, staged protests on World Refugee Day (20 June) in cities across Indonesia to demand resettlement after years of being stranded in poverty. 

There were protests in Pekanbaru, Batam City, Makassar while in  Medan, protesters disrupted official World Refugee Day celebrations to put their demands to UNHCR, IOM, and Australian and Indonesia authorities.

Some of the biggest protests of recent weeks were seen in Makassar (photos above) where Afghan and Sudanese refugees joined forces outside UNHCR offices and the Australian consulate. 

Protests have been growing in Indonesia over the last few months as refugees face cost of living increases that have driven them further into poverty as IOM allowances (paid by Australia) have been frozen since 2018. 

Refugees whop have arrived in Indoinesia sicne 2018 are deprived of any income support or accommodation, leaving them in desperate circumstances.  

Frustration is also growing that Labor is maintaining the 2014 Morrison government ban on accepting UNHCR refugees from Indonesia. 

Yesterday (World Refugee Day) Immigration Minister Andrew Giles bragged about fulfilling Australia’s 2023 humanitarian quota, but the quota has not been increased since Labor took office. It remains at just 13,750 places although Labor says it is committed to increase the quota to  27,000.  

Protest on World Refugee Day in Pekanbaru

Giles spruiked that refugees included in the humanitarian program this year includes 7,900 Afghans, yet has done nothing to assist the 7,000 Afghan refugees stranded in Indonesia by Australia’s ban. 

“Labor must lift the ban on Indonesian refugees,” said Ian Rintoul , spokesperson for the Refgugee Action Coalition, “and it must increase the allowance paid to refugees stranded by Australia’s ban.

“Indonesia has been warehousing refugees in Indonesia just as it used Nauru and PNG for offshore detention. Giles says Labor is committed to ‘safe, legal pathway’s for refugees to get to Australia. But refugees need more than words. Giles can make good on Labor’s claim and end Australia’s shameful ban and create a pathway for Indonesian refugees.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Rallies to demand an end to offshore detention, permanent visas for all, and an end to the Indonesia ban will be held around Australia in July to mark  the 10th anniversary of 19 July 2013, when the Rudd Labor government announced the Pacific Solution II and banned refugees sent to PNG and Nauru from permanently settling in Australia.