Afghan Refugees in Indonesia Condemn Taliban, Demand Third Country Resettlement

Tria Dianti
Jakarta
2021-08-24
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Afghan Refugees in Indonesia Condemn Taliban, Demand Third Country Resettlement Police officers scuffle with an Afghan refugee during a rally by refugees demanding justice and resettlement in a third country, outside the building that houses the United Nations refugee agency representative’s office, in Jakarta, Aug. 24, 2021.
AP

Hundreds of Afghan refugees in Indonesia – most of them from the Hazara ethnic minority – condemned the Taliban’s forcible return to power in their homeland as they rallied in Jakarta on Tuesday to demand resettlement to a third country.

Demonstrators gathered outside the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) office here and held up placards that read “Resettle Afghan refugees from Indonesia,” and “SOS Afghanistan is not safe.”

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Afghan refugees stage a rally outside the UNHCR representative’s office building, in Jakarta, Aug. 24, 2021. [AP]

The ethnic Hazaras, who are Shia Muslims, are persecuted in Sunni-majority Afghanistan. Many of these refugees have been sheltering in Indonesia for years as they wait to be resettled in a third country, such as Australia.

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An Afghan refugee reacts during a rally, in Jakarta, Aug. 24, 2021. [Reuters]

Indonesia is not a party to the U.N.’s 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and prohibits refugees from obtaining jobs and attending formal schools while staying in the Southeast Asian country.

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Afghan nationals sit on a street as police officers try to disperse them during a rally outside the UNHCR office in Jakarta, Aug. 24, 2021. [AP]

One refugee, Hakmat Ziraki, said he was grateful to the Indonesian people and government for hosting the thousands of them, but they needed to move on.

“We came here to ask … to know about our future, we are tired of waiting in limbo. We have waited about eight to ten years,” Ziraki told the Reuters news agency in a video clip.

“We want the world to hear our voices and we are really thankful to Indonesian people, to the Indonesian government for understanding us. We are really sorry, we are really, really, sorry to have broken this COVID-19 lockdown.”

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Afghan refugees talk to a police officer, who is wearing COVID-19 personal protective equipment, in Jakarta, Aug. 24, 2021. [Reuters]

The demonstration, which started out peacefully, became chaotic as security forces began to disperse the protesters for violating pandemic controls. Some demonstrators were seen being arrested by the police for resisting.

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An Afghan refugee shouts from inside a police vehicle as he is detained during a rally asking for justice and resettlement, outside the UNHCR office in Jakarta, Aug. 24, 2021. [Reuters]

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