“Sister, I’m sick. I cannot stop vomiting blood. If I die, please do me a favor. I entrust father and mother to you.”
It was the last text message from 18-year-old Ernawati binti Sujono Konderin, an Indonesian migrant worker in Saudi Arabia, sent to her family on Jan. 26 before her final contact by the phone with her older sister, Yenni Larasati, on Feb. 1.
“I was really sad when reading her fi nal text message. I rushed to Jakarta on Jan. 31 from Tanjung Pinang [Riau Islands] to report Ernawati’s situation to the Foreign Ministry,”
Yenni said on Tuesday in a press conference at Migrant CARE Headquarters.
“On Feb. 1, [Ernawati] said over the phone that her employer’s son had tried to rape her. She was crying. After that, there were no more calls or text messages from her.”
Yenni said Ernawati was forced to kneel while her employer often slapped, punched, kicked, threw things at her or whipped her with a hose.
The employer’s lover allegedly followed suit.
She never received her salary, Yenni added.
Ernawati died on Feb. 10, 10 days after Yenni filed the report, from injuries allegedly sustained from physical abuse at the hands of her employer and his lover, according to Yenni.
“Every time I asked a ministry employee about my report, they told me it was still being processed — until my sister’s co-worker called our family on Feb. 10, saying she had died.”
Yenni said she was finally convinced of her sister’s death on Feb. 13, when someone at a hospital called her on Ernawati’s cell phone after Yenni’s numerous text messages and phone calls went unanswered.
“The guy at the other end said there was an Indonesian who had died and had been at the hospital for three days. I got all this information on my own, not from the ministry or the embassy,” Yenni said.
In a letter the Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gatot Abdullah Mansyur, sent in February to the foreign minister, the manpower and transmigration minister and the head of the National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), he said that the Al-Muntazah police in Hail had received a report about an Indonesian migrant worker who was being treated for swallowing rat poison.
“How can the ministry and the embassy say my sister died from rat poison while at the same time they tell me an autopsy on her body is about to begin?” Yenni said.
She also said the ministry and the embassy insisted they could not reach Ernawati’s workplace in time because it was in Hail, 700 kilometers from the embassy.
“Was it really that hard to get there? I flew from Tanjung Pinang, more than a thousand kilometers from Jakarta, to seek justice and it took only one hour and 20 minutes,” she said.
“Had they immediately followed up on my report and evacuated my sister, she might still alive now.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene and the director for legal aid and protection of Indonesian nationals overseas, Tatang Budie Utama Razak, could not be reached for comment.
University of Indonesia international relations expert Hariyadi Wirawan said embassy staff did not arrive in time possibly due to diplomats’ reluctance to travel that distance or a lack of financial and human resources.
Only two weeks ago, an Indonesian maid named Ruyati binti Satubi was beheaded by Saudi authorities after being convicted of murdering her employer, who had mistreated her.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulrahman Mohammed Amen al-Khayyat at the latter’s request at the State Palace on Tuesday.
However, instead of expressing displeasure, Yudhoyono hailed Saudi Arabia for “giving aid” to an Islamic organization.
Migrant CARE executive director Anis Hidayah said she had reported the ministry, the embassy and the BNP2TKI to the Ombudsman Commission, which receives complaints of poor public service, for alleged “negligence that led to Ernawati’s death”.
Source: The Jakarta Post - June 30, 2011
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Divorcee Ruyati binti Satubi became a migrant worker for the first time in 1999.
She returned to Saudi Arabia again and worked for six years.
Her children asked her to change her mind when she was about to leave for the third time.
She was adamant of not wanting to see her three children facing bleak future.
One of them is in nursing school.
And she wanted to buy her son a car.
She insisted to fly to the Holy Land seeking fortune yet again, only to meet bitterness.
After a year and four months, she was beheaded.
From information that the family gathered, the grandmother of seven was tortured a lot from the very beginning of employment.
She had broken her leg during the initial three months, because of torture.
She was not admitted to hospital, but was treated by one of her employer’s children was a doctor.
Although Ruyati was a victim of violence by her employer, during trial, Ruyati confessed murdering 64-year old Khairiyah Majlad on 12 January, 2010.
She was not paid her three-months salary of SR 2400 despite being asked many times.
She was found guilty of of ruthlessly killing her employer, by repeatedly stabbing her.
For her offense, the 54-year old housemaid was executed by decapitation in Saudi Arabia.
One more Indonesian worker was beheaded in Saudi Arabia, on June 18, 2011.
The Indonesian embassy had not been advised beforehand about the execution.
The government saw the beheading as an unfair decision.
The execution over Ruyati is a great shock for many, irritated a lot of parties.
Migrant Care, an NGO that works for the rights of Indonesian migrant workers stressed that the government has failed to protect its citizen.
It had earlier reminded the government about Ruyati’s legal process in March 2011.
But the government denied it had been slow in preventing the decapitation penalty.
The execution has left Yudhoyono's government on the defensive as critics said there was not enough protection for Indonesian workers overseas.
Indonesia had summoned the Saudi envoy to express its "disappointment and deep regret" over the execution.
"We respect their legal system, but in this case, we feel they have failed to fulfil the Geneva convention on how to interact among countries," Teuku Faizasyah, the presidential spokesman for international affairs told Reuters.
"(The Saudi government) are being disrespectful of convention, they should have informed the embassy on any occurrence involving our nationals, especially in such cases where they are planning to execute our nationals," he said.
Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulrahman Mohammed Amin Al-Khayyat on Monday, June 20, had apologised for the execution of Ruyati.
He expressed regret that Indonesian Embassy was not given prior notice of the execution.
He assured Indonesia that it will not happen ever again.
Through RI Consulate General in Jeddah, the government has fought hard against the death penalty.
It had requesting the Saudi Board of Pardon (lajnatul afwu) to release Ruyati.
But the deceased family did not forgive her act.
The family did not forgive their 54-year old domestic helper Ruyati binti Satubi.
Indonesian government could not break the rigidity of death sentence in Saudi Arabia.
Ruyati’s three children in Bekasi, West Java, were initially informed by Migrant Care of Ruyati’s first hearing session on May 17, 2010.
In January 2011, they were told that the case was still on-going.
The family was then notified by the Foreign Ministry about the schedule for the next hearing that would take place in May 2011.
They had been struggling hard to find news about their mother's condition in foreign land.
Before long, a verdict was delivered, followed by an execution without them ever knowing anything about it.
Four hours before the mother was to be executed, one of her daughter saw the sight of 'her' in their kitchen.
Later, Migrant Care called to inform the mother had passed away.
The only person who had knowledge of the violence that led to 54-year-old Ruyati murdering her employer was Warni.
She is a fellow Indonesian worker who was hired by Ruyati’s employer too.
She knew a great deal about what Ruyati had to endure prior to the murder as they slept in the same room. She witnessed how the grandmother was punched and kicked.
Warni was reluctant to discuss Ruyati’s ordeal as it was Ruyati’s own request.
The grandmother had told her not to tell the children about what she saw.
She only revealed the truth after local police in Mecca moved in to arrest her.
Irwan Setiawan, the youngest of Ruyati’s three children, remember his mother as “a quiet and well-adjusted woman”.
She was reluctant to talk much about hardship she endured as a migrant worker.
She only talked about the good things in Saudi Arabia.
Irwan expressed his disappointment towards the role of the Indonesian government in helping his mother’s cause.
He felt neglected.
Ruyati’s family said they were let down by PT Dasa Graha Utama, a labour recruiting company which arranged Ruyati’s employment in Saudi Arabia.
At her age, Ruyati should have been ineligible to be sent abroad as a domestic worker.
The company had falsified information about the grandmother's age by registering her as 11 years younger.
Both the government and PT Dasa Graha Utama have responded to the grievances from Ruyati’s family by offering Rp 90 million (US$10,440) in compensation.
The family would wait until they have their mother's body home, despite information from the government that she was already been buried in Mecca, not far from the body of Saidatina Siti Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
There are 216 Indonesians overseas facing execution, including 26 in Saudi Arabia.
Currently, there are 2.2 million Indonesians working in Malaysia and 1.5 million in Saudi Arabia.
Around 90 percent work as house maids and drivers for individual employers.