The Jakarta Post
Indonesian authorities captured two Chinese fishing vessels off the coast of Riau Islands on Wednesday, following a report of the death of an Indonesian crew member aboard one of the ships.
The body of the crew member, identified as AH, was found in the freezer of one of the ships, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117. AH is suspected of having been a human trafficking victim.
Riau Islands Police chief Insp. Gen. Aris Budiman said authorities received a report about AH from his family on June 29. AH’s family said he was working aboard Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117 and was concerned that he might be dead because he could not be contacted.
“We received the information this morning [about the location of the ship],” Aris said in a press conference at the Batam Navy Command Base on Monday. “Afterward, we initiated the pursuit of the ship with a joint force comprising the Indonesian Navy, the Customs and Excise Directorate General, the Sea and Coast Guard, the Maritime Security Agency and the water police. We managed to capture the target several hours after that.”
Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117 and its sister ship Lu Huang Yuan Yu 118 were both captured in the waters around Nipah Island.
Authorities found 10 Indonesians working aboard Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117, along with 15 Chinese nationals and eight Filipinos.
Officials are also investigating Lu Huang Yuan Yu 118’s involvement in the matter
Aris added that authorities were probing the correlation between the incident and other similar cases involving Chinese vessels.
Meanwhile, Tanjung Pinang Naval Base commander Cdre. Indarto Budiaro said there were strong suspicions that both vessels been involved in human trafficking, money laundering and physical abuse.
In May, a video appeared on Facebook showing a group of sailors on Lu Qing Yuan Yu 623 throwing the body of an Indonesian sailor into the sea. Prior to that, there was public outrage at the death of four Indonesian sailors registered to another Chinese fishing ship.
According to Destructive Fishing Watch data, 30 Indonesian crewmen were victims of alleged exploitation aboard Chinese fishing vessels between November 2019 and June, seven of whom had died, while three others had gone missing. (asp)