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Jakarta Post

Govt probes report of Indonesian sailors jumping overboard into Malacca Strait

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 11, 2020   /   03:47 pm
Govt probes report of Indonesian sailors jumping overboard into Malacca Strait Chinese fishing vessel Yu Fuan Yu 381 sits docked at Tenau Port in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, in 2017. The ship was caught poaching in Indonesian waters with 15 foreign fishermen. (JP/Djemi Amnifu)

The Foreign Ministry and the National Police are investigating a report that two Indonesian crew members jumped off a Chinese vessel while it was underway in the Malacca Strait last week.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed the existence of the NGO report on Wednesday, saying that the two crew members in question were from Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra, and Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara.

“They decided to jump off the Chinese-flagged Lu Qing Yuan Yu 901 while they were underway in the Malacca Strait,” said the ministry's director for citizen protection, Judha Nugraha, in a press briefing.

The two crew members, identified as Reynalfi, 22, and Andri Juniansyah, 30, jumped off the boat on Friday. After about seven hours adrift, they were rescued on Saturday by a group of fishermen from Tanjung Balai Karimun regency in the Riau Islands as they were passing through the area, Antara news agency reported.

“They are now in the Tebing Karimun police station and are in good condition. We are still investigating the case in coordination with the National Police,” Judha said in the briefing.

Read also: Indonesian sailors’ deaths on Chinese fishing vessel raise questions about working conditions

The two Indonesian citizens were allegedly victims of human trafficking.

According to a report by Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW), an Indonesian NGO working to prevent destructive practices in fishing and other environmental issues, the two crew members decided to jump off the ship because they could not withstand their treatment on board.

The NGO said they had been intimidated and physically harmed, either by the ship’s captain or by fellow crewmen.

“The allegation of forced labor emerged after we found violations such as unpaid wages, poor working conditions, threats and intimidation, [all of] which Andri Juniansyah and Reynalfi had experienced,” said DFW Indonesia coordinator M. Abdi Suhufan.

According to DFW data, at least 30 Indonesian crew members were victims of such violations aboard Chinese vessels from November 2019 to June of this year. Of that number, seven reportedly died, three remain missing and 20 survived.