Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Waiting on the Islands of 'Stuckedness'. Managing Asylum Seekers in Island Detention Camps in Indonesia: From the Late 1970s to the Early 2000s

Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Waiting on the Islands of 'Stuckedness'. Managing Asylum Seekers in Island Detention Camps in Indonesia: From the Late 1970s to the Early 2000s

Article excerpt

This article sheds light on the obstructed mobility of asylum seekers who were passing through Indonesia during their search for permanent and effective protection, and the politics of their detention. The flows of Indochinese asylum seekers who were 'stored' in Galang Island between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, awaiting either their resettlement or repatriation, are compared with more recent arrivals of asylum seekers from the Middle East, many of whom were hosted in open detention facilities on Lombok Island during the mid-2000s. This comparison provides comprehensive background information on how the asylum seekers and their claims for international protection have been handled in Indonesia. Given that Indonesia is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, Indonesia offers no formal rights to asylum seekers and refugees within its territory. Instead, Indonesia 'tolerates' their presence as long as they are under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Highlighting the differences regarding the management of these two distinctive groups of asylum seekers helps to grasp the full scope of 'stuckedness' (Hage, 2009) and also helps to understand the varied impacts of obstructed mobility on asylum seekers looking for permanent and effective protection.

Keywords: Asylum Seekers; Detention Camps; Indochinese 'boatpeople'; Indonesia; Middle Eastern Refugees

Dieser Artikel beleuchtet die eingeschr?nkte Mobilit?t von Asylsuchenden auf ihrem Weg durch Indo- nesien auf der Suche nach dauerhaftem und effektivem Schutz sowie die Politik ihrer Inhaftierung. In diesem Kontext werden Asylsuchende aus den Indochina-Staaten, die von den sp?ten 1970er bis Mitte der 1990er Jahre auf der Insel Gaiang festgehalten waren und dort auf ihre Umsiedlung beziehungs- weise Repatriierung warteten, mit den neueren Fl?chtlingsank?nften aus Nahost verglichen, von denen viele Mitte der 2000er Jahre auf der Insel Lombok in offenen Asylst?tten festgehalten wurden. Dieser Vergleich dient in erster Linie dazu, den Umgang Indonesiens mit Asylsuchenden in den letz- ten drei Jahrzehnten aufzuzeigen. Angesichts der Tatsache, dass Indonesien bisher die Fl?chtlings- konvention der Vereinten Nationen (1951) sowie das dazugeh?rige Protokoll (1967) nicht unterschrie- ben hat, bietet Indonesien Asylsuchenden und Fl?chtlingen keine formellen Rechte. Solange diese sich jedoch beim Fl?chtlingshochkommissariat der Vereinten Nationen (UNHCR) oder auch bei der Internationalen Organisation f?r Migration (IOM) registrieren, toleriert Indonesien ihre Anwesenheit innerhalb seines Territoriums. Unterschiede im Umgang mit diesen beiden Flüchtlingsgruppen ver- deutlichen nicht nur das volle Ausmaß des "Festsitzens" (stuckedness) (Flage, 2009), sondern zeigen auch verschiedene Auswirkungen von eingeschränkter Mobilität auf, wenn es um den Zugang zu dauerhaftem und effektivem Schutz geht.

Schlagworte: Asylgefängnisse; Asylsuchende; Flüchtlinge aus dem Nahen Osten; Indochinesische Bootsßüchtlinge; Indonesien

Introduction

It's good to hope, it's the waiting that spoils it.

(Yiddish proverb)

This article compares the treatment of Indochinese and Middle Eastern asylum seek- ers in Indonesia between the late 1970s and the early 2000s by examining Galang and Lombok - two islands used for detaining asylum seekers in the past. In particular, this article seeks to illustrate the general conditions of obstructed mobility - or even stasis - experienced during protracted stays on these 'detention' islands. In order to better understand the general and specific features of human migratory flows in current South-East Asia, it is insufficient to focus solely on the causes, courses, and conditions of movement. The other side of the coin, obstructions to migrants' mo- bility as well as the total inability to move (on), requires at least the same degree of attention if a complete picture of human migratory flows is to be provided. …

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