Indonesian lawmakers have urged the government to impose a moratorium on sending Indonesian crew to Chinese fishing vessels following alleged accounts of exploitation of Indonesian crew members.
“The government must aggressively contact all Indonesian crew members and take firm action, the moratorium is necessary,” said Dave Akbarshah Fikarno, Member of Parliament and member of the commission overseeing foreign affairs and defence.
The Golkar Party politician added that a temporary suspension on sending Indonesian workers to Chinese fishing vessels should be imposed until there is a guarantee that Indonesian workers’ rights are protected.
Another lawmaker urged the government to investigate using international laws on how Indonesia’s crew members — who were sick and then later died — were dumped at sea.
“Therefore, I requested the Indonesian government to investigate following the existing law. Don’t let modern slavery happen again,” said Muchamad Nabil Haroen from the PDI-P party.
How did the tragedy happen?
Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry revealed that on 26 April, the Indonesian Embassy in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, had received a report that an Indonesian citizen, known as EP, had been ill.
He admitted that he had been suffering from shortness of breath and had coughed out blood.
His agent then brought him to the Busan Medical Center at the request of the embassy. The next day, however, EP died.
“Based on the Busan Medical Centre information, EP died from pneumonia.
“At this time, the embassy and the Foreign Ministry are handling the repatriation of deceased Indonesian workers to Indonesia. The late EP was one of the 15 crew members working at Long Xing 629 vessel,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a virtual conference on Thursday (7 May).
Three of EP’s colleagues died at the vessel, she added.
Four dead workers were dumped at sea. China claimed that the workers’ families had agreed to such an act.
The vessel’s captain stated that the decision to dump the workers’ bodies were due to the infectious disease the workers were suffering from. Their action, said the captain, was in accordance with international law.
Families of the deceased were not informed
The families of two of the deceased workers — who hailed from South Sumatera’s Ogan Komering Ilir Regency — were dumbfounded when they heard that that the bodies of the workers had been dumped at sea.
Head of the Public Communication Service at OKI Adi Yanto said that the regency administration had visited the families of both workers who had been childhood friends.
“Before the news went viral, they had known about the death, but they did not know that the bodies were buried at sea, not buried normally,” Adi told CNN Indonesia on Friday (8 May).
Working conditions aboard the fishing vessels are poor. Fishermen on such vessels typically work around 18 per day — and sometimes up to 30 hours at a time — with insufficient food supplies.