Medan, North Sumatra, Feb. 16 – Leaders of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries should include the plight of Rohingyas in the agenda of ASEAN meeting scheduled to be held in Thailand late this month, according to Dr. Mohammad Hazmi of Malaysia.
Many Rohingya Muslims, being oppressed by the Myanmar regime, had fled to other countries, including in Indonesia, Dr. Hazmi, Coordinator of the Citizen International of Malaysia, said here on Monday.
The United Nations (UN) and ASEAN should give attention to the fate of Rohingya people, and not only focus on democratization issue in Myanmar, Dr. Hazmi, who was accompanied by members of Indonesia’s Ukhuwah Jama’ah Muslimin (Hizbullah), said.
Hazmi, concurrently Secretariat Chairman of the Asian Ulemas (Islamic Scholars) Association, praised the Indonesian government for treating some 391 Rohingya refugees well in Sabang and Idi Rayeuk, Aceh Province.
After meeting and talking directly with the Rohingya refugees in Aceh, he concluded that the refugees were victims of a regime wanting to eliminate the minority group.
The Rohingya boat people did not want to return to their country, he said.
Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims had initially arrived in Thailand from Myanmar, but the Thai authorities put them in nine wooden boats measuring 14×3 meters and released them in the middle of sea.
After floating for 21 days in the sea with only few kilograms of rice and one gallon of water, only two boats arrived in Aceh Province, and seven others were not known their whereabout.
Over the past one month, Aceh Province has received nearly 400 Rohingya refugees. Some 193 Rohingya boat people got stranded in Sabang, Aceh on January 7, 2008, and another 198 Rohingyas reached the coast of East Aceh after 21 days at sea, with some of them in a critical condition on February 3, 2008.
Hizbullah has sent a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono not to deport the Muslim boat people, as several Islamic boarding schools and local residents are willing to accommodate them.