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Indonesia ‘feels cheated’
by Saudi government

The Saudi Arabia government did not fully inform Indonesia about the trial process of Ruyati binti Satubi, leading to Indonesia’s failure to save her from execution, the foreign minister says.

Meanwhile, calls mounted for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take firm action against Saudi Arabia.

Speaking before members of the House of Representatives on Monday, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the Saudi government told the Indonesian government that there would be a continuation of trials against Ruyati in April and May this year — information he said the Indonesian government passed on to Ruyati’s family.

“But the execution was carried out on June 18, without letting the Indonesian government and missions know in advance,” said Marty.

Separately, Indonesia National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Overseas Labor (BNP2-TKI) head Jumhur Hidayat said Indonesia “felt cheated” by the Saudi government.

Marty said the Indonesian government was not alone in this case. “It executed other nationals without giving advanced notification to their families or the foreign missions in [their respective] countries,” he said.

“It is regrettable that Saudi Arabia has repeatedly ignored its international obligation to inform related countries about consular affairs their nationals are facing.”

University of Indonesia international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said the Saudi court should have considered that Ruyati might have committed what she did in self-defense.

“In qisas [the principle of ‘an eye for an eye’], someone who commits murder must be sentenced to death. But that applies only when that person does it with ill intention, [which was not the case with Ruyati],” he told The Jakarta Post. “No Indonesian migrant worker who comes to Saudi Arabia has bad intentions, or intends to kill someone there.”

Ruyati reportedly was often abused by her employer, did not receive her salary and her request to return home was denied.

University of Indonesia Middle East expert Reza Widyarsa agreed that the Saudi court should have taken into account the motive behind the murder as sharia law stipulated.

He also said a diplomatic protest was not effective, citing past cases of Indonesian migrant worker abuses that did not produce results although the Indonesian government sent diplomatic protests to the Saudi government.

“If [Yudhoyono] dares, we must withdraw all our migrant workers there until we have a proper protection system for them,” Reza said.

Saudi Arabia currently employs around 927,500 Indonesian migrant workers, mostly as housemaids, making it the second-biggest user of Indonesian manpower after Malaysia.

Ruyati was beheaded with a sword on Saturday after being found “guilty” by the court of killing the wife of her Saudi employer, Khairiya bint Hamid Mijlid, by striking her repeatedly on the head with a meat chopper and stabbing her in the neck with a knife, the Saudi Arabia Interior Ministry said in a statement reported in the country’s official SPA news agency.

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Abdurrahman Mohammad Amen Al-Khayyat was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to receive the diplomatic protest. He refused to be interviewed, detik.com newsportal reported.

Marty is scheduled to meet Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Gatot Abdullah Mansyur on Tuesday, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene.

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