Monday, 09 December 2019

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Communal unrest spills over to Indonesia

Fighting between Buddhist and Muslim asylum seekers from Myanmar at a detention centre on Indonesia's Sumatra island left eight people dead Friday, police said.

The fighting broke out at around 2:00 am (1900 GMT Thursday) at the Belawan Port immigration detention centre in North Sumatra province, said local police spokesman Heru Raden Prakoso.

"We don't know how many of the dead are Buddhists and how many are Muslims, or how the clash broke out. But our preliminary findings suggest they were beaten to death with wooden objects," Prakoso said.

The brawl erupted after recent Buddhist-Muslim violence in central Myanmar that has left at least 43 people dead. Mosques and Muslim homes were destroyed during the wave of violence, which witnesses say appeared well organised.

The Sumatra detention centre holds 280 asylum seekers and illegal fishermen from Myanmar, Prakoso said.

Boats carrying asylum seekers fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar are increasingly ending up on Indonesian shores. Many of those arriving face long stints in detention awaiting UN assessment for refugee status.

For more background:
  1. UN envoy slams anti-Muslim campaign
  2. Burmese, Indonesian presidents discuss Rohingya Crisis

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