The Indonesian government has decided to evacuate all its citizens living in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have died since civil war erupted. The violence, and more specifically the use of chemical weapons, has been condemned around the world.
"The government has carried out protection and repatriation measures for our citizens in Syria. As of September 11th, we have repatriated 8,960 people in 183 groups," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told members of the House of Representatives' Commission I overseeing foreign affairs, according to Kompas.
Marty said there are many more Indonesians in Syria, but he assured that all of them will be evacuated.
"We are so glad that our government pays significant attention to us in Syria. Many of us have been frightened by the conflict. Even though it is sad to leave our jobs in Syria, we would rather be safe. It seems the conflict in Syria will not be improving any time soon," Ningsih Wardani, a migrant worker from Yogyakarta, told Khabar Southeast Asia days after arriving back in Indonesia.
Ningsih, who lived in Syria for two and a half years, said witnessing the civil war has been among the worst experiences of her life.
"I will not return to Syria. Everything I saw there is still a big trauma for me. Even though I liked the job, Syria will not be the next destination. I had enough there."
Proposal for peace
Under Marty's leadership, the Indonesian government has put forth a peace building proposal to help address the conflict in Syria.
"We called for a stop to the violence, followed by humanitarian aid, and promoting a political process that is transparent," Marty said.
Gadjah Mada University Rector Pratikno also called for diplomacy and justice in Syria.
"We expect that good diplomacy will end the conflict in Syria. The situation in Syria and the usage of chemical weapons, which have been killing thousands of innocent people and children, is now becoming the world's concern. Whoever is responsible must face international justice," he told Khabar in a phone interview.
"We hope the call for peace will be responded to appropriately by the Syrian government," he added.
Impact on Indonesia
Budianto Ridwan, a graduate student at Gadjah Mada University, said the Syrian conflict could have some ill effects on Indonesia.
"The conflict in Syria can trigger a spike in oil prices in Indonesia. And if this happens, it will cause more turmoil (similar to) what happened last March," Budianto said, referring to violent street protests over proposed price hikes.
He said that even though the political and economic situations in Indonesia are improving, the price of oil is always a sensitive issue. Moreover, the return of Indonesian workers from Syria will impact the economy.
"Our growth has reached 6% this year. Our migrant workers, including those who work in Syria, are contributing to this growth. Therefore, we hope a good diplomatic approach will solve the problem in Syria," he said.
Abdullah Rauf, an Islamic cleric in Sleman, Yogyakarta, condemned the violence in Syria.
"The situation in Syria, it has nothing to do with Islamic teachings. I think it is purely violence. There is no way Islam teaches killing people massively by using chemical weapons," he said.
"I don't know much about the politics in Syria, but I do know that killing is not jihad and is not Islamic.