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Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims turned away by East Timor

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Uncertainty surrounds the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims attempting to seek asylum in Australia but turned away by East Timor.

A group of Rohingya Muslims are now on a remote Indonesian island close to the East Timor border, reportedly waiting for a chance to continue their journey to Australia.

The asylum seekers landed on a East Timorese island after their boat got into difficulties.

Ian Rintoul from the Australia-based Refugee Action Coalition has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia East Timor's response is not appropriate for a Refugee Convention signatory.

"It really is a disgrace that the East Timorese responded the way they did," Mr Rintoul said.

"It's not really what you expect from a convention signatory.

"The maritime police were involved and effectively tried to push them off the island, making it very clear that they weren't going to be welcomed in East Timor territory and were not going to be assisted," he said.

Mr Rintoul says the asylum seekers are continuing to face risks with their attempts at seeking asylum in Australia.

"Now, they're at Wetar Island, it's about 40 kilometres from the island in East Timor territory that they first landed on," he said.

"They haven't got very far which does indicate problems with the boat.

"It (the boat) was taking water when they contacted Australia on Friday evening...the boat's not going anywhere but they would like to get underway to continue their journey to Australia.

"When faced with the prospects of taking some risks at sea compared to indefinite detention in Indonesia or worse, then often they feel there's no alternative but to take that risk.

"So we only hope that if they do take that risk, that Australia's going to be in a position to respond appropriately if they do get into trouble," Rintoul said.
Source link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-18/rohingya-muslims-seeking-asylum-in-australia-turned-away-by-/4829342

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