News World Indonesia attacks Abbott for being heartless

Indonesia attacks Abbott for being heartless

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Indonesia has scolded the Abbott government for not rescuing thousands of starving refugees stranded in boats in south-east Asia.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott thrice refused to assist the mainly persecuted Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“Nope, nope, nope” was Mr Abbott’s response when asked by a journalist if he would offer to resettle the men, women and children forced to wait on boats for a new home.

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A spokesperson for Jakarta’s foreign ministry criticised Australia for not fulfilling its obligations under the UN refugee convention.

“My point is this: countries that are parties to the convention on refugees have a responsibility to ensure they believe in what they sign,” foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told the media.

“If you believe it when you sign it, you should act upon it.”

Until Wednesday, Indonesia and Malaysia — both majority Muslim nations — had also refused to help.

Along with Thailand, the three nations turned back the persecuted migrants, who are reportedly mistreated regularly by the Burmese.

The US has pledged to assist, but Australia has not.

“If we do the slightest thing to encourage people to get on the boats, this problem will get worse, not better,” Mr Abbott told reporters on Thursday.

The Australian prime minister’s comments were singled out by a senior Indonesian politician for criticism.

“Tony Abbott should not put the blame on the asylum seekers. They went on the boats because they were forced to do that,” said Indonesian deputy speaker in the lower house Fahri Hamzah.

The diplomatic relationship between Australia and Indonesia has been strained since the recent executions of Andrew Chan and Muyuran Sukumaran.

-with AAP.

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