More than 20 undocumented migrants being held at a hotel in East Java undertook a daring escape on Friday morning, exiting a window, climbing a wall and then moving onto the roof of a house next door.
The 21 escapees and another 19 without paperwork, all from the Middle East, were being held in Madiun. Witness Bambang, who lives in a house behind the hotel, said he heard some commotion on his roof before sunrise on Friday.
“I initially thought it was mice but after I went outside to check, it turns out to be some foreigners. It happened around three in the morning,” Bambang said.
Kasimin, a neighbor, said he heard strange noises on his roof at around 1 a.m.
“After that there were many police officers chasing after them,” Kasimin said.
Officials from the Madiun immigration office and the police declined to comment on the matter.
Local sources said that nine of the 21 escapees had been recaptured.
Most of the migrants were from Iraq but the group also included five Kuwaitis and four Iranians.
The foreigners were reportedly attempting to go to Australia when they were arrested in the southern East Java district of Pacitan on Sept. 7.
The escape is the latest incident involving undocumented people seeking to enter Australia. Human rights activists have accused the Indonesian authorities of deliberately allowing some people being held to flee to ease the burden on the overcrowded detention centers, which are grappling with a funding shortfall.
Some 23 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar escaped from a temporary shelter in Bogor in July, flee even though six guards were on duty to watch them.
A few weeks earlier, 40 Afghan asylum seekers escaped from a detention center in Tanjung Pinang, Riau.
Those detainees were housed on the third story of the detention center. They reportedly sawed through iron bars on the third and second floors, climbed onto the roof of the first floor and then made their way into the village via nearby swamps.
Australia has sought to deter undocumented arrivals, this week opening a detention facility on the small Pacific Island of Nauru to which is has pledged to send many of those who arrive by boat.
A similar arrangement is in place with the government of Papua New Guinea, which has agreed to house arrivals to Australia at Manus Island while their applications for asylum are assessed.