RI has no plan to expel Syrian envoys: Foreign Minister
Indonesia did not plan to ask any Syrian diplomats stationed in Indonesia to leave the country, but insisted on talks and dialogue to address the worsening tension in the Middle-Eastern country, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Thursday.
Marty said expelling Syrian envoys was not a good form of protest against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who had continued to attack innocent civilians.
“We have no plans to expel anybody. We believe that, in this worsening and difficult situation, we should instead intensify talks and dialogue,” Marty told reporters at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport before departing for Bangkok, Thailand.
Governments around the world expelled Syrian ambassadors and diplomats, an usual coordinated blow to the Assad regime, following a gruesome massacre in Houla. Japan followed the path taken by the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands in expelling Syrian diplomats.
The brutal attack in Houla, which was considered one of the deadliest events in the 15-month uprising against the Assad regime, reportedly killed 108 civilians, including 49 children.
Marty added his ministry summoned Syria’s acting ambassador to Indonesia on Thursday to explain Indonesia’s stance on the situation in Syria.
“The summons is aimed at delivering our views about the situation in Syria, where violence has continued to escalate. Our stance has been firm since the beginning that we condemn any form of violence against civilians,” he said, adding that the meeting also touched upon the future of ties between the two countries.
Marty went on to say that the government had begun evacuating Indonesians out of Syria.
“We have completed nine evacuations so far. There is also a shelter set up at our embassy. We have been doing whatever we can to prevent them from panicking. Tonight, a group of 40 Indonesians will arrive from Syria,” the minister said.
According to Foreign Ministry data, there are about 12,000 Indonesians residing in Syria as students, professionals and migrant workers. Of these people, 193 had already left the country, and an additional 40 people were set to be evacuated on Thursday.
Some 139 migrant workers were sheltered at the Indonesian Embassy in Damascus as of Wednesday.
Presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faizasyah said that the government “has prepared an action plan for the worst”.
“We have similar experience from dealing with Indonesians in tense situations, such as in Egypt and Tunisia,” Faizasyah added.
The government has reassigned Indonesian Ambassador to Syria Wahib to coordinate the evacuation effort. Wahib was recalled four months ago to express the government’s concern over the violence in Syria.
Wahib will also oversee the 16 Indonesian police and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel deployed to Syria as United Nations mission observers.