Boat people ‘illegal labourers from Bangladesh’ not Rohingya: Indonesia

Indonesia has told Australia that most of the 7000 boatpeople stranded at sea in the region are not Rohingya asylum-seekers but illegal labourers from Bangladesh.

In a foreign ministers’ meeting in Seoul yesterday, Indonesian offic­ials told Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that only 30 per cent to 40 per cent of those stranded on boats and in camps in the region were Rohingya refugees.

“They (Indonesia) believe there are about 7000 people at sea (and) they think about 30-40 per cent are Rohingya, the rest are Bangladeshi; and they are not, in Indon­esia’s words, asylum-seekers, they are not refugees, they are illegal labour­ers, they’ve been promised or are seeking jobs in Malaysia,” Ms Bishop told The Weekend ­Australian.

“They said the Rohingya have gone to Bangladesh and have mixed up with the Bangladeshis who are coming to Malaysia in particular for jobs.”

She said the Indonesian repre­sentative at the so-called MIKTA meeting in Seoul, Hasan Kleib, Indones­ia’s Director-General of Multilateral Affairs, said one boatload of 600 people was found to have 400 Bangladeshis aboard…