Arientha Primanita & Ezra Sihite
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed hope on Thursday that former vice president Jusuf Kalla would be willing to become the country’s special envoy on the Rohingya issue.
“I hope that Mr. JK, with his extensive experience, can become our special envoy so that Indonesia’s solidarity and attention on the humanitarian issue of the Rohingyas is accurate and . . . helps our Rohingya brothers and sisters,” Yudhoyono said.
The president spoke after meeting with Kalla, the chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), visited the Rohingya ethnic minority community in Rakhine, Myanmar last week. Kalla met with the president to discuss the results of his visit, and Yudhoyono said that the government was prepared to take a “constructive role” in helping to get find resolution to the Rohingya issue. Kalla is scheduled to meet with several Myanmarese officials on Sept 8.
“For example, we can participate in building houses or providing whatever food material is needed by the displaced Rohingyas. I asked what Indonesia can do,” Yudhoyono said. The president sent President Thein Sein a letter about the humanitarian plight of the Rohingyas, and praised the warm reception Kalla received by the Myanmar government. “Myanmar is open to Indonesia playing a role,” Yudhoyono said.
Kalla did not comment after the meeting.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Thursday that the country was at the forefront of efforts to solve Rohingya crisis in Myanmar after violence broke out between Buddhists and Rohingyas in June in Rakhine, leaving at least 80 people dead from both sides, according to official estimates deemed low by rights groups.
Marty said that at a recent summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Indonesia, along with Malaysia, Brunei and Bangladesh, asked the organization’s members to push for humanitarian aid for the Rohingya, and pressure Myanmar to open international access to the group.
“The comprehensive nature of the approach, the humanitarian problem and the status of these Rohingyas has to be settled within the framework of the state of Myanmar,” Marty added. He said that Indonesia was sheltering some of the Rohingyas who have fled the country, or had been forcibly expelled from Myanmar.
But Marty added that the foreign ministry was not yet considering providing Indonesian citizenship to the displaced Rohingyas. “What we have been doing so far is just providing them with shelter,” Marty said.