The Jakarta Post
Around 150 labor activists and ex-migrant workers staged a rally demonstrating against the reported rape of two Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia recently. They also demanded President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to visit Kuala Lumpur soon and evaluate the two countries’ bilateral ties.
Calling Malaysia a barbaric nation, the protesters cited that the two reported rape cases were only part of a great number of violent acts committed by Malaysian security officers and employers against Indonesian migrant workers.
“The series of shootings that claimed 13 migrant workers and the rape of the two women migrant workers are beyond cannot be tolerated and the President must visit Kuala Lumpur immediately because the cases strongly show that Malaysia disrespects Indonesia and that the Malaysian people look down on our nation,” executive director of Migrant Care Anis Hidayah said during the rally outside the Malaysian Embassy in Kuningan, South Jakarta on Friday.
A similar rally was also held by a score of activists and students grouped in the Bendara, a non-governmental organization, and the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Union on Wednesday to protest the two women migrant workers’ reported rape.
They also demanded the government to stop sending workers to the neighboring country until the latter can guarantee safety and humane treatment of migrant workers.
A migrant worker identified as SM from Batang, Central Java, was reportedly raped by three police officers in their office in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, on Nov. 4 after she was nabbed in a crackdown, while another worker hailing from Aceh was reportedly raped by her employer at the latter’s residence in Negeri Sembilan on Nov. 5.
Three police officers are still undergoing intensive interrogation while the Malaysian employer and his wife have escaped.
The two cases have sparked strong reactions from numerous groups at home, with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa sending a note of diplomatic protest to the Malaysian government.
Anis said President Yudhoyono had to go to Malaysia to evaluate bilateral ties with Malaysia and instruct a temporary suspension of labor supply until the current condition was repaired.
“If the President declines to do so, we of the civilian society are ready to go to Malaysia to make sure that the Malaysian court imposes the harshest penalties on the three police officers and the employer who allegedly raped the two workers. We do not want the trial to become a soap opera like the previous ones, which were staged only to calm down Indonesia’s strong reaction,” she said, adding that the President had an obligation to handle the most recently reported rapes to uphold Indonesia’s sovereignty as a big nation.
She said Malaysia has become a killing field for around 500 workers annually and a haven for rapists because those who allegedly raped Indonesian women migrant workers were not given severe punishment.