Indonesia Foreign Minister to Visit Arakan State

By Jakarta Globe 8 January 2013

JAKARTA—Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa arrived in Burma on Monday for a two-day visit to observe the communal conflict between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist residents in Arakan State, offering Indonesia’s help and proposing a potential solution to the problem.

Marty will visit four cities in the state, where years of clashes between Muslims and Buddhist have left dozens of people dead.

P.L.E. Priatna, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director of media and information, said on Monday that the minister would visit cities of Kyauktaw, Maungdaw, Pauktaw and Sittwe before discussing the problems with several Burmese ministers and Arakan State’s governor.

“Marty will inspect the situation and condition there directly. He will discuss with Burma’s officials how to create a political solution to the conflicts and how to distribute humanitarian aid as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction of the conflict areas,” he said.

Indonesia has been at the forefront of efforts to solve the Rohingya crisis in Burma after violence broke out in June between Buddhists and Muslims in Arakan, leaving at least 80 people dead from both sides.

Indonesia is also sheltering some of the Rohingyas who had fled the country, or had been forcibly expelled from Burma.

While many people in Indonesia have expressed willingness to send aid to the Rohingya people, they did not know how to channel it, Priatna said. “That’s why we need to forge better coordination so that the aid can reach those who need it,” he said.

Previously, the Indonesian government pledged US $1 million in humanitarian aid to Arakan State to help alleviate the sufferings of the Rohingya ethnic group there.

“In this difficult situation, we are informing that Indonesia has made a commitment to donate $1 million to alleviate the suffering in Arakan State,” Marty said last week.

“The aim of my visit is to directly observe what the situation is in Arakan State, while also dissecting the existing problems and challenges there,” Marty said. He added that the government continued to closely monitor the situation in Burma and will encourage the legal settlement of the Rohingya citizenship issue.

The issue has proven a difficult one for Burma’s political leaders as well as opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi, all of whom have declined to make decisive statements on the conflict.