Indonesia is set to accept the Rohingya refugees it is sheltering in Indonesia, despite fierce resistance from the Muslim minority, who say the Rohingya are not citizens and do not have the right to vote.
The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesia’s foreign ministry has confirmed that the country will allow the Rohingya to live and work in Indonesia despite protests from the Myanmar government.
The move is the first by a major Southeast Asian country to welcome the Muslim community and is seen as a response to an influx of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar.
In a statement, the ministry said the Indonesian government has informed Myanmar that “it is in the interests of all stakeholders in the region to ensure that the Indonesian community in Myanmar is not deprived of its right to participate in Indonesian life”.
The statement said Indonesia’s government is working with Myanmar authorities to address concerns raised by the Rohingya community.
“Indonesia’s position remains the same as it has always been: We will do everything in our power to ensure the rights of the Indonesian people in Myanmar,” the statement said.
Indonesian Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said Indonesia will accept the refugees who have arrived in Indonesia.
The Rohingya are among the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority groups, who are fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
They are seen by many as illegal immigrants and refugees, who do not belong to the predominantly Buddhist majority that has ruled Myanmar for decades.
The UN has said Myanmar is illegally sheltering tens of thousands of Rohingya in camps.
The government in Myanmar denies it is discriminating against the minority.
The UNHCR has warned that Myanmar’s new laws will make it difficult for the Rohingya, who have lived in Myanmar for generations, to return to their homeland.