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Saudi officials obstructed access to Hajj pilgrims: Indonesia

29 September 2015 22:57



Indonesia says Saudi Arabia prevented Indonesian diplomats for days after the crush in Mina from either identifying or offering medical assistance to those nationals from the South Asian country who were killed or injured in the tragedy.

On Tuesday, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, an official in Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said Saudi officials gave full access to the victims no sooner than Monday night, September 28.

The human crush happened on September 24, when two large crowds of pilgrims were directed to move toward each other from opposite directions in Mina. Reports indicate that Saudi authorities had blocked a road to Jamarat, forcing another column of pilgrims who had completed the ritual to return via the same route.

The Indonesian official said at least 46 pilgrims from Indonesia, the Muslim world’s most populous country, died in the crush, adding that 10 were injured and 90 others remain missing.

On Monday, Lukman Hakim Saifudin, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, said in a statement that Indonesians did not have free access to hospitals to search for the injured pilgrims.

“The Saudi Arabian government has its own regulation, tradition, culture and procedures in dealing with such cases,” Saifuddin said, adding, “This has not allowed us enough freedom in our effort to identify” the victims.

‘Incompetent’ in dealing with disaster

The outcry in Indonesia comes as officials in Iran criticized the Al Saud regime for it “incompetence” to handle the hajj pilgrimage rituals.

During his Monday speech at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said, “Thousands of Muslim pilgrims” lost their lives in the Mina disaster due to Saudi authorities’ “incompetence and mismanagement.”

Islamabad urged to react

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Supreme Court said it had received a citizen’s petition asking it to open an investigation into the Mina catastrophe.

Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Ministry said at least 44 Pakistani pilgrims died in the deadly incident and 35 sustained injuries.

According to Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry, the death toll from the incident stands at about 770. However, the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Saeed Ohadi says the death toll could reach 4,700.

Ohadi said on Tuesday that 239 Iranian pilgrims have so far been confirmed dead in the Mina tragedy. He added that 14 Iranian pilgrims have been wounded while 241 others are still missing.

The incident occurred just days after a crane collapse into the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which killed more than 100 people.

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