Refugees across Indonesia protest today about 6-10 years limbo caused by Australian policies

The refugees, from many nationalities, who have stagnated in limbo for 6 to 10 years in Indonesia, will begin peaceful protests today, Monday 5 August, 1pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (10am, Jakarta time) at UNHCR offices in the cities of Jakarta, Makassar, Tanjung Pinang, Batam and Surabaya.

JN Jonaid, an Afghan refugee in Makassar for six years said: “We have protested several times since 2013, but our fate of statelessness and homelessness has still remained unsolved, unaddressed and un-discussed. We are frustrated and exhausted due to this unending waiting game of resettlement, confined in an open prison and effectively denied their fundamental human rights, such as the right to work, right to education, and right to movement.”

“We are demanding a solution from both local and international government–resettlement to third countries and legal integration in Indonesia. Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention, and we are isolated from the rest of Indonesian society and kept marginalised.
“Most refugees registered with the UN before March 2018 receive a monthly allowance from the International Organisation for Migration of US$70 (A$100) a month, which is hardly enough to put nutritious food on the table, while around 5000 who aren’t registered or who registered after that date are completely destitute and sleep on the streets.

“We are desperate, and we are protesting even though we might face challenges, threats or harsh measures as such detention and imprisonment. We rely on the people who believe in refugee and human rights, whether they are in Indonesia or Australia, to support us.”

Mark Goudkamp from the Refugee Action Coalition, who was recently in Indonesia, said: “Today’s protests come after up to 1000 refugees camped outside the UNHCR offices in Central Jakarta propelled their plight to the front pages of the Indonesian media, and caused the speaker of the Indonesian parliament to call on Australia to stop evading its refugee resettlement responsibilities.”

“Australia is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, but it has extended its policies of refugee deterrence to Indonesia, freezing resettlement for anyone registered with the UN since July 2014. Their policies are treating the close to 15,000 refugees in Indonesia as indefinite hostages.

“It’s shameful that at the same time Australia is funding so-called ‘Assisted Voluntary Return’. The refugees fear to go back to our countries as wars and conflicts are still ongoing there.

For example, the largest group of refugees in Indonesia is from Afghanistan. Yet over the weekend, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) wrote that 1500 civilians were killed or injured in July 2019, mostly due to Taliban attacks. It’s the highest number of casualties in a single month for more than two years.”

Watch this youtube video capturing day 5 of a renewed wave of protests outside the UNHCR in Jakarta (1 August 2019)

For more information, contact JN Jonaid (Makassar, Indonesia) on +62 8218880458,

Arian Khan (Jakarta, Indonesia) on +62 812-9323-6763;

or Mark Goudkamp (Sydney) on 0422 078 376

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