New Findings in Ruyati Case

Ms. Ruyati had not had legal aid from the government during the trials in Saudi Arabia

Rabu, 28 September 2011, 16:18 Arry Anggadha, Denny Armandhanu, Syahrul Ansyari
A protestor cries at a demonstration on domestic workers in Jakarta
A protestor cries at a demonstration on domestic workers in Jakarta (VIVAnews/Anhar Rizki Affandi)

VIVAnews - A new fact was presented as regards the case of the beheading of Ruyati Bint Satubi, an Indonesian migrant worker in Saudi Arabia. Late Ruyati’s advocacy team was confident that it is impossible that the government did not know of the case of beheading on June 8, 2011.

The conclusion was made after the advocacy team came directly to Saudi Arabia. They visited three areas - Jeddah, Mecca and Medina for seven days, August 11-20, 2011. The cost for the investigation was financed by the ‘Rp1000 for Ruyati Movement’.

The investigations was carried out by Een Nuraenah, the child of the deceased. Een was not alone. She was accompanied by Nining Djohar of Migrant Care, Alai Nadjib of Fatayat NU, and Badrus Samsul Fata of Wahid Institute.

"It's impossible the information about qishas (law of revenge) was unknown," Alai Najib said during a press conference held at the office of Migrant Care, East Jakarta, September 27 2011.

In the investigation which is also supported by the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia, NU and Muhammadiyah, they found some facts.

"The beheading occurred due to the state’s negligence for not giving legal defense to the maximum," said Migrant CARE Executive Director Anis Hidayah, in the same place.

The following are the results of the advocacy team’s scrutiny in three areas - Jeddah, Mecca and Medina for seven days, August 11-20, 2011.

First, the advocacy team found that Ruyati’s tomb was located in Sarai’ (Sharaya), Mecca. "The National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) has given disinformation as it previously stated the tomb of Ruyati was in Ma'la," said Alai Nadjib.

Second, the Indonesian Embassy and its Consulate General were seen as having neglected the information, as well as ignoring it, in the Ruyati case.

"The reason is, according to the results of our investigation, at least one week before qishas was implemented, there is always a detailed notification through television and local media about the identity, sex, national origin, and violation of the convicted, before the execution is done," he explained.

Third, the Embassy and Consulate General were heedless in terms of service and protection of the legal problem-ridden workers. According to them, during the trial Ruyati was only accompanied by a translator, not an attorney who could provide her legal defense.

"This translator is one of the staff members of the Consulate, but the identity of the translator is so far remained hidden," he said.

Fourth, the Embassy and Consulate General ignored the basic rights of the deceased’s family. According to them, it is evident that both parties have not pocketed the court files of Ruyati case, the argument was that they were still in the process. "This is despite this case has passed for three months," he added.

Fifth, the Consulate General’s explanation that before qishas, they had tried to ask for forgiveness, could not be proven.

Sixth, the late Ruyati bint Satubi was known to be a good person. "This is reinforced by the testimony of the first and second employer, for whom Ruyati worked for almost seven years."

Seventh, the government’s representative bodies in Saudi Arabia has allegedly ignored the case. This is evident from the rampant illegal worker shelters in Saudi Arabia.

Eighth, the dispatch of the deceased’s body is difficult given the complexity of the judicial system in Saudi Arabia. However, the advocacy team said they sent an application letter to King Abdullah through the consulate, so as the body of Ruyati can be dispatched to Indonesia.

Ninth, in addition to late Ruyati, currently there are about 42 migrant workers waiting for qishas penalty in Saudi Arabia. "We also ask for clemency," he said.

The results of the investigation were surprising, also to Een. He complained about the absence of a lawyer to accompany his mother. "Whereas when I was first came to the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Rangga, who received my complaint, told me that the clemency plea to the employers’ children will be sought, a lawyer will be provided. It all are just nonsense. I think my mother was really struggling alone without anyone defending her," Een said.

Een recalled, the case concerning his mother, was conveyed by Suwarni, Ruyati friend in Saudi Arabia. According to him, Suwarni told him to see his mother who was then imprisoned. "She said even the government did not pay a visit. So there was really nobody, I’m sorry for my mother," he said.

According to him, Suwarni has never told that his mother had contacted the Consulate General prior to imprisonment. "But it was not addressed," he said.

At that time, Een continued, hot water was poured on his mother, the employer chased her while carrying a knife. "Her suffering was extraordinary. Mother’s suffering before the murder feels like my heart being slashed. Imagine, poured with hot water. Maybe the fight with the knife was self defense," he said.

Een has one last hope. Mother's body being dispatched and buried in her hometown. He stated he will continue demanding the state's responsibility to dispatch the body of his mother. "I as a citizen entitled to the dispatch of the body by the government. Regardless the body’s condition, we will accept it," he said.

So far, the government through Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, promised  Ruyati’s body to be dispatched. However, it is quite difficult because of procedural issues and rules there.

"We have sent letters directly to King Abdullah in August. We also expect the government, especially President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, can help us by doing a head to head talks with the government of Saudi Arabia. And hopefully they are willing and successful," said Een.

Based on the results of the investigation, the advocacy team planed to deliver the demand to President Yudhoyono. The reason is, it is likely that what happened to Ruyati is also experienced by labors of Indonesia.

"We urge the president to dismiss the officials/ bureaucrats in agencies/ institutions related to the handling of migrant workers who are proved lying to the public, especially the family of late Ruyati binti Satubi," Een said.

Alai Nadjib added that President Yudhoyono should withdraw consular officials who did not facilitate legal protection for late Ruyati and allegedly did not provide information openly regarding the case of Ruyati.

In addition, he asked the Foreign Ministry to immediately restructure the Consulate General of Republic of Indonesia. "Given the ineffectiveness of the relevant institutions in the protection of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia," he said.

Anis Hidayah also asked the president to conduct head to head diplomacy with the King of Saudi Arabia, as done by the fourth RI President Abdurrahman Wahid, and Philippines President Gloria Arroyo Machapagal, rather than forming task force which only waste the state budget.

According to her, that issue was also a concern some Indonesians in Saudi Arabia which was delivered directly to the advocacy team. "Why would the president with the largest number of Muslims in the world seem reluctant to have diplomacy directly with the King of Saudi," she said.

Therefore, Anis asked the President to have more sensitivity and attention to the fate of the workers.

"The government should be more transparent and provide information as openly as possible regarding the fate of Indonesian workers, totaling 42 people facing qishas penalty in Saudi," she said.

Government’s Response

Indonesia’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Gatot Abdullah Mansyur  gave a serious response to the results of the investigation. Gatot denied the Migrant Care’s investigative report that revealed the government’s lies in the Ruyati case. In spite of the denial, Gatot claimed the Embassy has a weakness in carrying out its duties in Saudi Arabia.

Contacted by VIVAnews, Tuesday, Gatot said the institution that dealt with the Ruyati case was the Consulate General in Jeddah, while he served in the Embassy in Riyadh. Responding to Migrant Care’s claim about the absence of a lawyer to accompanied Ruyati, Gatot said the Consulate has in-house lawyers on standby whenever they are needed.

"Every citizen who has legal problems is accompanied by a lawyer. As in Riyadh, we have in-house lawyers," said Gatot.

One of the other results of Migrant Care’s investigation is the embassy and consulate general neglected information. This is because, according to them, at least one week prior to execution there is announcements on television and the media. Gatot denied this. According to him, when the execution is exactly is kept secret by the Saudi government.

"According to the Interior Ministry of Saudi Arabia, the party who knows when someone is to be executed is just the family. That, too, is informed the night before the execution is carried out. The executable even knows she or he would be beheaded just two hours before the execution," said Gatot.

However, Billy acknowledged the Embassy and Consulate General are still weak in the matter of protection. This is because the vast area they have to handle, while Indonesia staff numbered only 48 in the two missions. Gatot said the consulate general in Jeddah has to deal with an area of ??2400 square km, while the Embassy in Riyadh 1000 square km.

Gatot also deplored the attitude of NGO Migrant Care that only attacks, but did not provide a solution. To that end, Gatot challenged Migrant to come to Saudi Arabia and work together to solve the problem. "They do not know what we are doing here. Anis, please come anytime for internship in Jeddah, to see our work, help us," he said.

Gatot invited Migrant Care officials to not only criticize, but also help establish the representative capacity of Indonesia in Saudi Arabia. One of required Migrant Care’s contributions is providing reliable lawyers and consultants for citizen protection issues.

Head of National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers (BNP2TKI) Jumhur Hidayat apologized to the family of Ruyati binti Satubi, the maid who was beheaded in Saudi Arabia, June 18, 2011.

The statement of apology was conveyed in response to his mistaken information regarding the burial site of Ruyati. According to the communication with the representatives of Indonesia in Jeddah, Jumhur claimed to have received information on the burial of the deceased Ruyati was in Ma'la, Mecca, but later discovered to be in Sharaya, which is also still in ??Mecca.

"Without reducing my concerns in case of late Ruyati and no intention at all to deflect the fact, I specifically deliver apology to the family of the deceased regarding the inaccurate information," said Jumhur, Tuesday.

Jumhur acknowledged, for the case of Ruyati’s beheading, he continued coordinating with the representatives of Indonesia in Saudi Arabia, especially the consulate general in Jeddah. So once he heard Ruyati body was buried in Ma'la, he delivered it directly to the public in Indonesia.

"It was done in order to answer the needs of the public who sometimes are not so eager to find out information on the development of Ruyati case immediately," said Jumhur.

However, for the incorrect information he did not want to blame the representative of Indonesia.

Jumhur also expects the delivery of incorrect information about the place of Ruyati’s tomb need not be fussed about, especially due to the case of Ruyati’s beheading the governments is committed to improving protective service for workers abroad, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

"The measure of temporary suspension of the placement of migrant workers to Saudi Arabia declared by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is clearly the government’s positive response over the case of Ruyati, as well as affirmation of the stance so that the government of Saudi Arabia give the best protection to Indonesian workers," he concluded.

Translated by Indah Lestari

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