ASYLUM SEEKERS´ SORROW
Hundreds of asylum seekers from the Middle East feel ignored and abandoned in Jakarta.
Dozens of immigrants are shouting emotionally in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Indonesia at Jalan Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta. “No help, no job, no place, we’re humans too!” shout the immigrants from the Middle East while raising up their signs of protest to UNHCR.
The asylum seekers’ faces look tired after they hold the demonstration for three days. They blame UNHCR for being slow in taking care of their problems staying in a third world country.
Most of the immigrants are from Afghanistan, and most of them are from Hazara tribe whose religion is Shia Islam. Their safety is under threat because they’re being chased by Taliban and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) who see Shia Islam as a misleading belief.
Besides immigrants from Afghanistan, some of the protesters are also asylum seekers from Sudan, Iraq, and Somalia who are forced to leave their hometown because of conflicts in their country. Most of the immigrants have stayed for years in Indonesia without knowing how their future will be.
They are forced to live in an unfortunate situation, and lacking food and water supply. People’s sympathy is the only assistance they get. Besides that, they don’t have a shelter to protect themselves. They sleep on the sidewalk in a small village behind UNHCR office.
When it rains, their day gets worse. "We have to sleep on the streets, eat people’s leftover food if we’re running out of money, and sometimes we move to Monas (Jakarta National Monument) to sleep. We can’t sleep if it rains, people always ask us to go away," said Husein (24), an immigrant from Afghanistan who starts to speak Indonesian fluently to gres.news at a sidewalk in front of someone’s house.
Husein claims he has been staying in Indonesia as an immigrant for four years. "Since 2013, I got chased by Taliban, my mother and brother have gone because of war. Only my wife who remains there, and I don’t know how she’s doing right now," he said with a sad expression.
Husein told his life story until he’s stranded in Indonesia as an immigrant. "I went on a flight from Afghanistan to Malaysia. From Malaysia, I sailed a small boat with a hundred people, we didn’t have anything to carry with, we have thrown our belongings to the sea," he said.
The money worth US$14,000 he brought was spent for his travel. "(I spent) US$900 for a flight from Afghanistan to Malaysia, and (I spent) US$500 to pay a student visa to enter Malaysia," he said.
When he arrived in Malaysia, Husein decided to go to Indonesia because the asylum seekers believed that Indonesia is the best country for them as they only have to wait for a relatively short time to get an asylum. Each person only has to pay 200 dollars, and he decided to sail to Medan with a small boat.
According to him, he has owned an immigrant identity card, but it doesn’t help his life. UNHCR never grants his rights for an asylum. The rights for an asylum consist of pocket money, a job, and shelter before they’re deported to their hometown. "They’re asking us to be patient, I had enough of waiting, only God knows when this will end, I have no job, money, or even anything," he complained.
Husein hopes the asylum that he’s been waiting for in years would come true so he could have a normal life like the others. "I just want a normal life, nothing else," he said.
Meanwhile, another immigrant named Salim (37) from Iraq has a different story. He left Iraq because of an endless war. Salim has been living as an immigrant for five years, and he’s quite lucky because he already owns a visa to go to America. However, a policy issued by the new US President Donald Trump on immigrants made him have to withstand another miserable life in Jakarta.
“I already have a visa to America, and bought a flight ticket but they canceled it and asked me to wait longer, and it has been five months. I asked them why but they didn’t answer,” he said.
The new US President Donald Trump’s decision to forbid the nationals from seven Islamic countries to America, where Iraq is one of the countries that he blacklisted, has made asylum seekers like Salim trapped in an endless waiting in Indonesia. Unemployed and indefinite future makes them slowly lose their hope. They have to put away their "American Dream" longer without knowing when will it come true.