The Jakarta Post
Sutomo, 49, and Rahayu, 45, the parents of Bayu Oktavianto, 22, a sailor recently released by the Abu Sayyaf militant group, could not hide their happiness upon reuniting with their loved one.
Bayu, one of 10 Indonesian sailors held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants for more than a month, arrived in Jakarta on Sunday evening.
“We are happy and very grateful that Bayu and nine other crew members could be finally released. This is an extraordinary miracle,” said Sutomo on Monday. He was speaking on his way to Adi Soemarmo Airport, Surakarta, Central Java, from where he would depart for Jakarta to bring his son home.
Sutomo said Bayu’s company, shipping firm PT Patria Maritim Lines, Jakarta, informed him on Sunday afternoon that his son and nine other crew members of the tugboat Brahma 12, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in southern Philippines, had been released.
For more than a month Bayu’s family, living in Miliran, Delanggu district, Klaten, Central Java, was desperately worried about his fate. Together with his nine fellow seamen, Bayu was taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group on March 28. Later the hostage takers asked the Indonesian government or the tugboat owner to pay a ransom of Rp 15 billion (US$1.14 million) by April 8 at the latest.
Sutomo said he was concerned, especially after PT Patria Maritim Lines and the Indonesian government did not show any sign that they would fulfil the militant group’s demand. His wife, Rahayu, could not eat for days. She could only cry and pray.
Sutomo said he and his family dropped to “the lowest level” when they heard news that Abu Sayyaf militants had executed several hostages because their ransom requests were not fulfilled.
“We really didn’t know what we were supposed to do. We were confused, worried and angry. We later used prayer as our last resort. We surrendered to God,” said Sutomo.
He said his family got strength after a Koran recitation group in his village decided to carry out a recitation of the Koran and mass prayers at his house every night. Led by Ustadz (Islamic teacher) Abdul Rohman, they held mass prayers to ask for the release of Bayu and the other sailors. It was planned that the Koran recitation and mass prayers would be held routinely every evening for 40 days.
“On the 33rd day, we received information that Bayu and nine other crew members had been released. After Bayu arrives home, we will hold a ‘syukuran’ [a gathering to express thanks to God]. Hopefully, Bayu can return home to Delanggu on Tuesday morning,” said Sutomo, who departed for Jakarta with his younger brother, Pardiyono.
Rahayu relentlessly expressed her happiness over the release of his son. Speaking to journalists at her home, Rahayu said she could not wait any longer to cook Bayu’s favorite dish, spicy fried eels.
“Every time he comes home after sailing abroad, Bayu always asks me to cook spicy fried eels. The dish must be already served on the table once he gets home,” she said, in a trembling voice.
Bayu and the nine other Indonesian crewmen were captured in Sulu, southern Philippines. The Brahma 12, towing the barge Anand 12, carried a total of 7,500 tons of coal, was hijacked in Tawi-tawi waters as it sailed from Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, to Batangas, southern Philippines. (ebf)
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