Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - Some 400 foreign refugees rallied in front of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office in Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands Province, on Monday, seeking justice and their human right to fair treatment.

"Through this protest, we put forth our demand for fair human treatment. We demand justice," Ali Rizal Nazario, one of the refugees, stated.

The refugees mostly come from Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Pakistan.

The refugees averred that they were not criminals and were seeking freedom after having spent five to seven years at the Tanjungpinang Immigration Detention House and Badra Hotel in Bintan Island.

The refugees hold the Indonesian laws in high regard and admire Indonesian people, who are hospitable, but sense that they are not free.

"We cannot work and drive vehicles. We have the required skills," Ali, who has been staying at the Badra Hotel for 14 months, remarked.

Ali had earlier stayed in Rudenim, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, for several years.

"Many friends of mine suffered from depression and mental disorder," he pointed out.

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Chief of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative office in Riau Islands Frangky Lukitama could not as yet ascertain when the refugees will be dispatched to third countries, the United States, Australia, or Canada.

"I am waiting for a follow up from the Bintan police resort," he stated.

In a related development, some 100 foreign refugees recently held another demonstration for their basic human rights in front of the UNHCR Jakarta office.

The protesters comprised male individuals or single refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Syria.

"We have been here for seven years, but we remain deprived from our basic human rights," Abdul, one for the refugees, informed Antara.

As a single refugee, Abdul pointed to having no rights to secure a job and own a vehicle. Defending the rights of refugees has been a complicated and lengthy process.

"We have been demanding our rights for years, but the UNHCR does not respond to it fast, and it takes too long to process our rights as single refugees," he stated.

The UN body only processed the demands of refugees coming with their families but not for single refugees, he noted.

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Translator: Nikolas Panama/Suharto
Editor: Sri Haryati
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