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Jakarta Post

Family of Chinese fishing vessel crewman demands investigation into son's death

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Tue, May 12, 2020   /   08:53 pm
Family of Chinese fishing vessel crewman demands investigation into son's death Chinese fishing boats that were caught operating illegally in Korea's exclusive economic zone are moored at a port in Incheon, South Korea, on Oct. 10, 2016. (Yonhap via AP/Yun Tae-hyun)

The mourning family of EP, an Indonesian crew member of a Chinese fishing vessel who died after receiving treatment in South Korea, has called on the government to probe his death after findings some bruises on his body.

EP was among four Indonesian sailors registered to Chinese fishing vessel Long Xin 629 who died between December 2019 and April this year after allegedly enduring poor working conditions aboard the ship.

He died on April 27 at the Busan Medical Center in South Korea after days of treatment. Another sailor, identified as AR, died after being moved to Chinese fishing vessel Tian Yu 8 on March 30, while two other sailors died on Long Xin 629 in December 2019.

"This [case] must be thoroughly investigated. I want to know what really happened to my son," EP's mother, Kelentina Silaban, said after the funeral of the 21-year-old on Monday at the Desa Pahieme public cemetery in Central Tapanuli, North Sumatra.

A viral video, which was first featured on South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation's (MBC) news segment last week, shows what appears to be an orange body bag being thrown off a fishing vessel by a group of men. The bag is believed to contain a dead Indonesian crew member.

Two unidentified Indonesian sailors who worked on the vessel told MBC that those aboard the ship had endured poor living conditions, as they were only allowed to take short breaks every six hours and had almost no time to sleep.

They were also made to drink filtered seawater during work, which eventually took a toll on their health as they became nauseated and to some extend experienced breathing difficulties.

Kelentina said the last time she made a video call with her son she saw his face swollen.

Read also: Sailors’ deaths highlight lack of legal protections for migrant workers

"He did not say much, other than saying that he was sick."

Two days later, she said, EP informed her that he was going home and was preparing the required documents to return to Indonesia. But it turned out to be the last phone call she had with her son.

"The next thing I knew, my son was dead."

EP worked on the Long Xing 629 for one year and two months, after four months of training in Jakarta, Kalentina said. She went on to express her hope for the Indonesian government to investigate the death of her son.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi previously confirmed the death of four Indonesian sailors registered to the Chinese fishing vessel, one of whom was EP.

“On April 26, the Indonesian Embassy [in Seoul] was informed that a citizen with the initials EP was sick. When they contacted him, he said that he had long suffered from difficulty breathing and had coughed up blood,” Retno said. “The Busan Medical Center said he died from pneumonia.”

Investigations are underway to determine whether the Indonesian sailors were treated well or exploited while they were on board. (vny)