In an event marking spontaneous solidarity and anger against forced deportation of refugees by the German government, students of vocational training program in Nuremberg occupied a police van which came to their campus to take one of their classmates for deportation. While the protest by the students have been thoroughly peaceful and spontaneous, the police and authorities have labeled the protesters as left-radicals. However, the agitators are common students with no organised political links.
There remains an Asian-centric tendency to think that asylum is a concept manufactured by the West, for the West. Today, half of the countries in East and Southeast Asia have not signed the Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
Despite a plea from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging Southeast Asian leaders to uphold “international law” and “the obligation of rescue at sea,” Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have refused to accept the “boat people”.
The biggest elephant in the room at ASEAN today is the treatment of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority refugees from Buddhist dominated Burma. While the public debate rages and bordering on xenophobia, ASEAN’s treatment of these refugees is exceedingly inconsistent with rectitude.
The emaciated faces of hundreds of refugees found adrift in Thai waters on Thursday spoke volumes about the scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in South Asia. Reporters on Thursday found about 400 refugees from Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority crammed aboard a wooden fishing boat in the Andaman Sea, desperate for food and water.