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‘We knew nothing before
it was too late’

The children of Ruyati binti Satubi, the Indonesian migrant worker recently beheaded for murder in Saudi Arabia, say they knew almost nothing about their mother before it was too late.

According to them, the only person who had knowledge of the violence that led the 54-year-old Ruyati to murder her employer was Warni, a fellow Indonesian worker who was also hired by Ruyati’s employer.

Warni, however, was reluctant to discuss Ruyati’s ordeal and only revealed the truth after local police in Mecca moved to arrest her.

“It was too late, she [Warni] told us. Had she shared the story before, the ending could have been different,” Ruyati’s second daughter, Efi Kurniati, said.

Efi said Warni knew a great deal about what Ruyati had to endure prior to the murder as they slept in the same room.

“Warni told us about how my mother was punched and kicked. She was an eyewitness,” she said.

The reason for Warni’s discretion, she said, was Ruyati’s own request.

“Warni was afraid. My mother had told her not to tell the children about what she saw,” she added.

Ruyati’s son, Irwan Setiawan, the youngest of her three children, fondly remembered their mother as “a quiet and well-adjusted woman” who was reluctant about her hardships.

“She only talked about the good things over there,” he said, adding he found it difficult to picture his mother as a murderer. “She would never do such a thing without a cause.”

Ruyati’s children said they were initially informed of Ruyati’s first hearing session on May 17, 2010, by Migrant Care, an NGO that works for the rights of Indonesian migrant workers.

The family was then notified by the Foreign Ministry about the schedule for the next hearing that would take place in May, 2011.

“In January 2011, we were told that the case was still on-going. Suddenly a verdict was delivered, followed by an execution without us ever knowing anything about it,” Efi said.

Irwan expressed his disappointment toward the role of the Indonesian government in helping his mother’s cause. “We are extremely disappointed. We feel neglected.”

Ruyati’s family said they were let down by PT Dasa Graha Utama, a labor recruiting company which arranged Ruyati’s employment in Saudi Arabia.

Efi said that at her age, Ruyati should have been ineligible to be sent abroad as a domestic worker. She said the company had falsified information about Ruyati’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.

Irwan said that there had also been efforts to silence his family.

“We were told to keep quiet about the death and in exchange they offered us cash. We rejected it because we wanted to keep fighting to have her body sent home,” he said.

Irwan said the family would not stop until they had Ruyati’s body home, despite information from the government that her body had already been buried in Mecca. (awd)

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