Illegal migrants ‘wanted to seek attention’

THE action by Acehnese immigrants to force their way into a UN refugee agency in Kuala Lumpur yesterday was aimed at seeking international attention, a senior Indonesian Foreign Ministry official said.

The official, who declined to be named, said the 12 Acehnese were demanding protection from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees because they did not want to return to Indonesia.

“They are trying to seek world attention to their plight,” he said.

Observers here said the Acehnese, many of whom fled from North Sumatra to Malaysia during a separatist rebellion in the early 90s, wanted to be viewed as political refugees and asylum seekers.

“It is difficult for them to accept the fact that they are being returned as illegal immigrants,” said one diplomatic source.

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