Ethnic-Chinese refugees from Indonesia want Taiwanese citizenship

Some who lived in Taiwan for 30 years face deportation

Jakarta's Chinatown (photo courtesy of Jakob Montrasio) (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Ethnic Chinese who fled persecution and violence in Indonesia decades ago are still waiting for Taiwanese citizenship in 2017, a legislator said Wednesday.

Many of the refugees could face deportation but they are stateless according to Indonesian law, opposition Kuomintang lawmaker Apollo Chen (陳學聖) told a hearing, according to a Central News Agency report.

One of the refugees present said she was only two years old when her parents fled Indonesia in 1987 out of fear for violence. Though she has lived in Taiwan for 30 years now, she was unable to apply for Taiwanese identity documents, had to abandon her studies and was facing deportation, the report said.

According to Chen, Indonesian citizens who do not return to the country within five years after the expiry of their passport lose citizenship. About a thousand ethnic Chinese who fled Indonesia between the late 1960s and the late 1990s, mostly during the rule of President Soeharto, found themselves in the same predicament.

The National Immigration Agency said there is a track toward citizenship for such refugees, with a yearly renewal of residency rights followed after five years by rights to insurance and education. Another three years further, they could apply for Taiwanese citizenship, the report said, adding that Chen was asking for a special dispensation for those Indonesians who had not filed such an application with the NIA.