|Indonesia Girls perform Turkish dance in Turkish Olympiad in Istanbul, June 2009|
apparently must wait longer to recieve Turkish Visas.
|Indonesian students who would like to attend schools in Turkey have been suffering due to unreasonably long waiting periods to get a Turkish visa and unreasonable demands from the Turkish Embassy during the application process.|
|Currently, there are 14 such students in Indonesia’s Aceh territory, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2004. The students say they have been forced to wait for no real reason, and complain that they are losing school time. They also say they are finding it hard to understand the ordeal that they have been subject to by the Turkish Embassy in Indonesia. One of the visa applicants is the son of a district chief who is known for his admiration of Turkey.|
To date, two groups of students have come to Turkey to attend the Turkish imam-hatip schools that provide Islamic education. This year however, students have had to face a problem with obtaining student visas, something that has not happened before. In 2008 and 2009 Indonesian students who won a scholarship from the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs came to Turkey’s Kayseri İmam-Hatip High School. This year the new group would have been placed at the Üsküdar İmam-Hatip High School, but the students are now missing school because they did not enrolled at a high school in their own country after winning the directorates’ scholarship. The Directorate’s funding covers the flight, accommodation and educational costs of the students.
The main reason why the visa process has taken so long, according to the students, has been the unreasonable demands of the Turkish Embassy in Jakarta, which at one point even demanded marriage certificates from the students, who are only in their first year of high school. The officials soon realized the error and stopped requesting that document, but this did not stop them from coming up with a longer list of requirements, such as proof of registration from the Üsküdar İmam-Hatip High School. However, the school refuses to issue the document, unless the students are granted a residence permit.
In previous years, students who came to Turkey from Indonesia to attend imam hatip high schools could obtain visas simply by presenting their invitation letters. Officials at the Jakarta Embassy say that in the previous years officials who were in office at the time had bent the rules on their own initiative, but the current officials would not act outside the directives instructed in the regulations for student visa applications from Indonesia.
Finally, the Directorate of Religious Affairs officially prepared documents for each of the student, showing that they had won scholarships to attend an imam hatip school in Turkey. Although embassy officials Emre Koçak and Fırat Sırma say that the student document was the last document the embassy wanted, the Aceh students still haven’t obtained their visas. However, both Koçak and Sırma were unavailable to answer our calls each time we called them to elaborate on the students’ problems.
In addition to the unreasonable demands, the embassy also wants the students to come to the embassy in person, and demands that the students travel to Jakarta with their families. However, there are no direct flights between Aceh and Jakarta. Therefore, someone who leaves Aceh early in the morning, via Medan in northern Sumatra, arrives in Jakarta only in the afternoon. The families and the students often cannot make it to the embassy on the same day, and have to stay in Jakarta overnight. Akmal Ibrahim, head of Indonesia’s Southwest Aceh Regency, is the father of one of the students who has been waiting to get a visa. Ibrahim said the situation was bizarre and definitely not fitting for a great nation like Turkey. He said: “I monitor Turkey closely in the international arena. This is a country that produces radical solutions to global problems. There is no way to understand how a country that claims it wants to build bridges of friendship with the world’s administrations can act so slowly, and negligently, with regards to this visa proces