Thursday, January 15, 2009

Indonesia may deport Burmese and Bangladeshi boatpeople

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Indonesia has indicated it is holding discussions to send back nearly 200 Burmese and Bangladeshi boatpeople, stranded off Sabang Island near Aceh province in early January, a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said.

Teuku Faizasyah, spokesperson of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry told Mizzima on Thursday that the ministry had sent an official to investigate into the boatpeople's situation and are now organizing a series of meetings with different government ministries on what to do with them.

"We sent an official last week to investigate and to verify their (the boat people) identity and the official has returned on Monday. We are now arranging meetings with several ministries to discuss what to do" said Faizasyah.

"Based on the information received I think the meetings will submit a recommendation on what to do with these people," he added.

On January 7, a wooden boat carrying 193 Burmese and Bangladeshis was seen stranded off the Sabang Island in northern Aceh province. They were then taken in by local authorities and an investigation was conducted to find out their identities, the official said.

The official said that all the boat people remain on the Island and are being taken care of by local people and the authorities.

"They [officials] had a meeting yesterday and the day before and I believe that there is sufficient information and we are just waiting for their recommendation," said Faizasyah, adding that a decision could be made by the end of the week.

The official said the foreign ministry had sent their staff members along with someone who can speak in Burmese because the boatpeople do not speak Indonesian or English.

The official said so far there has been no response from the Burmese Embassy.

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