EVA THIO WRITES – President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, officially dispatched aid to the Rohingya refugees. The President sent 34 tons worth of aid to help the displaced Rohingya people fleeing Burma, Myanmar. Four Hercules planes carrying food, family kits, tents, and blankets departed for Bangladesh from Indonesia’s air force base.
However, Jokowi’s actions were not received without criticism. Prabowo Subianto, a businessman and a politician who once ran for president and lost to Jokowi, claimed that Jokowi’s act was no more than an insincere attempt to boost his reputation. He said, “If we’re sending help, I think it’s just an attempt to raise image. Sometimes it will not arrive. So everyone here, no need to be emotional.”
President Jokowi still sent help to Myanmar despite Prabowo’s statement, strengthening Indonesia’s image in the process.
A few weeks ago, thousands of Indonesians protested Myanmar’s violent treatment of the Rohingya people in Jakarta. This was the largest pro-Rohingya demonstration so far– some protesters even stomped on posters of the Burmese head of government.
Indonesia is not the first to send aid to the Rohingya people. India and Morocco have also taken action against the violence. The UN Secretary Council has also joined the fight, publically condemning the violence in the Rakhine state.
Myanmar’s military and Buddhist villagers have terrorized and demolished Rohingya villages, and tried to force the Rohingya Muslims out of the country. Rohingya people are the Muslim majority ethnic group who have lived in Myanmar for centuries. More than 400,000 Rohingya people have escaped to Bangladesh in the past month, consisting of mostly children, women, families and the elderly. With so many fleeing to Bangladesh, it was necessary for Jokowi to make a definitive decision on how to handle the Rohingya refugee situation.
President Jokowi strongly urged Myanmar to take action against the violence, explaining that “the Foreign Minister has departed to Myanmar to ask the Myanmar government to stop and prevent violence, to provide protection to all citizens, including Muslims in Myanmar, and to give access to humanitarian aid.”