06/24/2011, 00.00
INDONESIA – SAUDI ARABIA
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After Ruyati’s beheading, Jakarta stops migrants from going to Saudi Arabia

by Mathias Hariyadi
A migrant worker, Ruyati Binti Satubi Saruna, was sentenced to death for murder and then executed by beheading without Indonesian authorities ever being informed. An additional 28 Indonesian nationals face the death penalty. The Indonesian government and embassy are accused of showing little interest for the fate of Indonesian migrant workers.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian government plans to bar migrant workers from going to Saudi Arabia as of 1 August. The decision was taken yesterday in the wake of the beheading of Ruyati Binti Satubi Saruna, a 54-year-old migrant woman, who had been sentenced to death for murder. After trying her, Saudi authorities executed her on 18 June without consulting with the Indonesian government or informing the Indonesian Embassy in Jeddah. Indonesian President Yudhoyono said that the moratorium on workers going to Saudi Arabia would end only when the two governments found a way to guarantee the rights of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. The president also said that he would appeal to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz for Ruyati’s body to be returned to her family in Bekasi. (See Mathias Hariyadi, “Indonesian woman beheaded in Saudi Arabia, Jakarta threatens to stop flow of migrants,” in AsiaNews, 21 June 2011).

At present, 28 Indonesian nationals are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. A related case is already causing a row in Indonesia. It involves Hasin Taufik bin Tasid, 40, and his wife Sab'atun binti Jaulah, 30, who might lose their fingers after they were accused of stealing in 2006. In Saudi Arabia since 2001, the couple spent months in prison in 2006, and it appears that they received no legal assistance from the Indonesian Embassy.

Cases like those of Ruyati and others have forced Indonesian political parties to ask questions about how serious the Indonesian government is addressing the matter. For some, Indonesian authorities appear to view the problem as a “mere point on the peak of an iceberg”, which includes forged documents, financial embezzlement and worse of all poor handling and protection by Indonesian authorities of Indonesian workers abroad.

In response to the situation, President Yudhoyono announced the creation of a task force to deal with the protection and legal defence of Indonesian workers living abroad.
“I personally question what President Yudhoyono means in his statement about maximum protection. How can his administration claim that they want to provide the best protection to Indonesian workers after they neglected their fundamental duty to assist Ruyati when she was on trial? How could Ruyati be sent to Saudi Arabia when her papers were forged in terms of her true age,” Sri Palupi, a human rights researcher, told AsiaNews.
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