The Jakarta Post
The National Police’s human trafficking task force has named two suspects in a case of alleged mistreatment leading to the of an Indonesian crewman aboard Chinese fishing vessel Lu Qing Yuan Yu 623.
“The Central Java Police’s human trafficking task force has named two [employees] working in a company that sent the crewman [to China] as suspects in the case,” said National Police general crimes unit head Brig. Gen. Ferdy Sambo on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He, however, declined to disclose any further details about the suspects or the case other than to say that the case was being handled by the Central Java Police under the supervision of the National Police’s task force because the company was located in Tegal.
The case emerged after a video purportedly showing a group of sailors on the Lu Qing Yuan Yu 623 throwing the body of an Indonesian crewman into the sea was shared on Facebook by user Suwarno Cano Swe earlier this month.
Tribunnews.com reported that three clips, each 29 seconds long, purportedly show a crewman of the ship experiencing torture that eventually led to his death. It was also alleged that the deceased had been a victim of slavery.
According to the chronology confirmed by the Foreign Ministry, the Indonesian crewman – identified only by his initial H – died on Jan. 16 when the ship was in Somalian waters. The ministry, however, did not obtain further details regarding the cause of death. H’s body was reportedly thrown into the sea on Jan. 23.
The Indonesian-based placement company, identified only as MTB, claimed it had reported the death to the Foreign Ministry, the Manpower Ministry and the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI).
The Foreign Ministry later found out that this claim was untrue, as it had only received the news of the death on May 8 following a report. The company had also not reported the incident either to an Indonesian overseas mission or local authorities in Somalia.
“We obtained information from the Transportation Ministry and Manpower Ministry that PT MTB isn’t registered nor does it hold a permit to place Indonesian crewmen abroad,” said Foreign Ministry director for citizen protection Judha Nugraha.
Apart from informing H’s relatives and ensuring the deceased’s rights, Judha added that the ministry had coordinated with the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing to send a diplomatic note to the Chinese Foreign Ministry requesting that the latter investigate the incident and determine the condition of other crewmen aboard Chinese fishing vessels.
The case is not the first report of alleged exploitation faced by Indonesian sailors aboard Chinese fishing vessels.
Earlier this month, there was public outrage at the death of four Indonesian sailors aboard another Chinese fishing ship. The crewmen had allegedly been subject to exploitation and had died after enduring poor working conditions.
The Chinese Embassy in Jakarta issued a statement on Wednesday that “a comprehensive investigation has been ongoing”, stopping short of mentioning which case it was investigating. (rfa/dis)