Four of the 16 students from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) accepted to the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) in Boston will not be allowed to go because they were denied visas from the American Embassy in Jakarta.
No information was available from the embassy as to the grounds for the rejection, but many believed it has something to do with their Muslims names and appearance.
Dermawan Wibisono, a lecturer who advocated for the students to go to the HNMUN, said in Bandung on Tuesday that all the students, who met all the requirements, were questioned only for just five minutes.
The four others, however, failed to get the visas until the day of their scheduled departure on Tuesday evening.
"The four could not go simply because they were denied visas for unclear reasons. Possibly because their names were too Islamic or something. and even there are those to have thick beards so that they worry," Dermawan said.
Every year nearly 3,000 college and university delegates from the US and over 30 countries around the world attend HNMUN to discuss a multitude of issues at the forefront of international relations.
The 2009 conference will take place from Thursday, Feb. 12 to Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009 at the historic Park Plaza hotel in downtown Boston.
The ITB delegation will mingle with other participants to discuss various major challenges facing the world, including security, economy, social development and human rights.
The ITB delegation will stay in Boston until Feb. 22, 2009.
Dermawan predicted that the US government's war on terrorism is behind the decision not to grant the ITB students visas. They were questioned and later were given the explanation that they failed to meet several administration requirements.
Misykat Fahada Mochamad Nur, head of the ITB delegation team, who will not be going, expressed his disappointment about the discriminative treatment and attributed the refusal (to issue the visa) to his name - which is Islamic.
"I don't have moustache or beards like the others. I was asked to meet additional requirements but I was never told what they were," he said.