Authorities in Bali have confirmed that a Taiwanese asylum seeker who had been residing in Bali for 5-years has returned to her home country. The political refugee, known only by her initials LJ, is 31-years old. She came to Indonesia in October of 2016 seeking asylum after fearing for her life due to her faith.
After approaching the authorities and filing her voluntary return, the Director General of Immigration and UNHCR approved her request and arranged for her journey home to start as soon as possible.
The Head of Bali Law and Human Rights Minister, Jamaruli Manihuruk, confirmed that LJ boarded a flight from Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport on 22nd April. She flew from Denpasar to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta where she then continued her journey to the Taiwan capital, Taipei City. She was escorted through I Ngurah Rai airport by two officers from the Denpasar Immigration Detention Center.
Manihuruk added that LJ had lived in the Tanjung Benoa area of South Kuta since 2019. Earlier in the year she reported herself to the Balinese authorities and volunteered to return to Taiwan. During her five-year asylum in Indonesia, she was not formally offered refugee status. This meant that she never had a clear placement. This is likely to have informed her decision to volunteer to return to her home country.
LJ left Taiwan in October 2016 claiming asylum on religious grounds. She is a practitioner of Falun Dafa, a modern religious movement that was founded in China in the early 1990s. The faith is grounded in Buddhist traditions and focuses on two main areas of religious devotion; gentle exercise and meditation. In the late 1990s, Chinese authorities detained thousands of Falun Gong practitioners on the grounds they were leaders who opposed the state. In the past suspected Falun Gong practitioners have been subject to torture, forced labor and there are substantiated reports of organ harvesting and murder.
According to local reports, LJ has surrendered her asylum seeker status in Indonesia so that she can join her husband in Taiwan. Voluntary return is a recognized route for asylum seekers to return to their home country of their own informed free will. Some countries have an Assisted Voluntary Return program to assist those whose asylum has not been granted, or if conditions in the country have changed since their departure.
Generally speaking, Taiwan is thought of as a country in its own right. It is, however, officially a part of the Republic of China and is subject to the same political systems as mainland China. The Chinese government is famed for its zero-tolerance of movements or organizations that could be viewed to oppose the state.
Travelers who carry either a Chinese or Chinese Taiwanese passport are eligible for the Indonesian visa on arrival program. Indonesia is benefiting from the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists visiting the country and is tailoring tourism offerings to suit. Both politically and culturally China has a significant influence on life in Indonesia and has done for decades.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 13,174 known asylum seekers and refugees residing across Indonesia as of February 2022. 57% of refugees in Indonesia come from Afghanistan and there is a significant number of people from Somalia. In recent years Indonesia has taken in thousands of Rohingya people from Myanmar who are escaping a government genocide based on their faith.
Many of these people arrive on boats along the Aceh and North Sumatran coastlines. On the contrary, 1,082 people from Indonesia have applied for asylum around the world according to the last published data in 2020. The majority have fled to Australia, the USA, and New Zealand.
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