03/26/2014, 00.00
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Saudi Arabia: Indonesian migrant risks beheading

by Mathias Hariyadi
The 40-year old Satinah Binti Djumadi is on death row for murder and theft. The execution is scheduled for April 3. At President Yudhoyono’s request, the Saudi king has already pardoned her. But under Islamic law the forgiveness of the family is needed and they want 2 million US dollars.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Top Indonesian diplomats, at President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's request are activating every possible channel to save the live of Satinah Binti Djumadi , 40-year old domestic worker in Saudi Arabia sentenced to death for theft and murder. The woman (photo) is on death row on charges of murdering her employer and stealing the - miserable - sum of 37 riyals (less than 10 US dollars). The sentence of death by beheading , will be executed on April 3, the governments and embassies in Jakarta and in Riyadh made contact to obtain the grace of the Saudi king and the forgiveness of the victim's family , two essential elements for her release.

Satinah's story closely resembles the drama of Ruyati binti Saboti Saruna, the Indonesian migrant worker executed in Saudi Arabia in June 2011 for complicity in murder. Her death sparked fierce controversy at home over the inertia shown by President Yudhoyono and the manner in which the execution took place, with Riyadh failing to inform the Indonesian Embassy or the government in Jakarta.

However, in Satinah Binti Djumadi's case Yudhoyono immediately took steps to stay the execution, a choice dictated by political and electoral issues ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections in April and July. There are still eight days left and the woman's fate seems to hang on the amount to be donated by way of compensation. It appears that the Saudi king, at the request of the Indonesian president, has already pardoned her. However, the forgiveness of the family is also needed, who at first asked for at least 41 billion rupees (over U.S. $ 3.5 million). The figure then dropped to 30 billion, and finally to 21 (just over .8 million).

So far, Jakarta has already earmarked 12.1 billion rupees, meanwhile groups and associations have launched a fundraising campaign to reach the required amount and save Satinah, a native of Ungaran Regency, in central Java. Human rights activists report that there are at least 256 Indonesian citizens who emigrated abroad in search of work, who are currently on death row waiting to be executed. "They are in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia", confirms Wahyu Susilo , of the Center for the care of migrants .

Poverty and expectations of a better standard of living push many people to try their luck abroad - both men and women - in construction or as domestic helpers. In Satinah's case it is not just a question of a woman's life, but a principle of social justice and care of all migrant workers outside their country of origin.

There are at least 1.2 million Indonesians in Saudia Arabia, 70% of whom are employed as waiters or domestic workers. The international movement against the death penalty reports that in 2011 alone at least 27 people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia for crimes of various kinds.  That number, however, is down from 2008 when 67 people were killed.



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