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» 06/10/2013
INDONESIA - SAUDI ARABIA
Jeddah: Indonesian immigrants storm their consulate for visa, one dead and three injured
by Mathias Hariyadi
At least 12,000 workers were waiting to regularise their position. A combination of heat, red tape and inefficient service sparked unrest with the building attacked and set on fire. After the case of the woman beheaded in 2011, immigration to the Saudi kingdom is back in the news.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A woman is dead, three people are slightly injured and dozens more fainted during yesterday's attack against the Indonesian consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, closed by local authorities for security reasons.

In recent days, thousands of Indonesian migrant workers had camped inside the building, waiting to regularise their position and get the necessary permits to avoid expulsion. However, the slow pace of operations and excessive red tape proved too much for many immigrants who went on a rampage, throwing stones and other objects and setting partitions and walls on fire.

For the first time in its history, an Indonesian diplomatic mission has been the object of violence, something that has caused dismay and concern at home, but did not surprise those who know the inner workings and shortcomings of Indonesia's bureaucracy, notorious for its corruption, bribes and favours, for passport applications or other documents, both at home and abroad.

The situation has worsened in Indonesian diplomatic offices in Saudi Arabia, because of Saudi crackdown on migrant workers. Since 1 April, at least 180,000 illegal workers (380,000 since the start of the year) have left the country, taking advantage of a special "immunity" that allows them to leave the country without the payment of a penalty.

When violence broke out, some 12,000 people were waiting at the consulate to fill out the paperwork to get a residence permit after the Saudi government set a 3 July deadline for applicants.

The looming deadline prompted workers to storm the building, which could not contain such a large crowd. Heat, lack of water and ventilation did the rest, causing some people to faint and others to protest until some revolted.

The question of residence permits is part of a bigger picture, which touches the lives of Indonesian citizens across the Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, where they are appreciated for the quality of their work and their "low-cost" but where they are also victims of abuse and violence.

The issue of migrant workers has repeatedly caused tensions between Jakarta and Riyadh as well as Indonesia and Malaysia. The beheading of Ruyati Binti Satubi Saruna in 2011 and more recent cases of abuse, sexual violence and violations of Saudi Arabia's immigration law have exacerbated the problem.


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See also
10/27/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
Riding a bicycle from Rome to Makkah, bringing a message from the Pope
04/15/2014 SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi court shuts down liberal forum
09/25/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
First Saudi university to allow men and women together
11/26/2008 SAUDI ARABIA
The Accolade, Saudi Arabia’s first all-girl rock band
12/02/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
Fear of epidemic looms over Jeddah as flood-related bodies are still unburied

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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