Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Yudhoyono protests beheading of Indonesian in Saudi Arabia


A woman ready to fly to Saudi Arabia to work as a maid waits at a shelter during a police inspection in Bekasi, Indonesia, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday condemned the beheading of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia and accused Riyadh of breaking the “norms and manners” of international relations.

In unusually strident terms, the leader of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country said he had lodged a “strong protest” with Saudi authorities over Saturday’s execution of the Indonesian citizen for murder.

His comments signal Indonesia’s growing anger over the treatment of its manual laborers in the Gulf countries, where rights groups say many migrant workers are treated like slaves and subjected to extreme abuse.

“This week we were shocked by the execution of Ruyati Binti Sapubi. Like all Indonesians, I also express sorrow over the disaster,” Yudhoyono told a nationally televised press conference. “I also express my strong protest to the Saudi government, which by carrying out the death sentence broke the norms and manners of international relations.”

Yudhoyono said he would send a letter to Saudi King Abdullah registering Indonesia’s displeasure, while reaffirming the two countries’ “good relationship.”

Indonesia says the Saudi government ignored diplomatic protocols and failed to inform it that 54-year-old Sapubi, who had been convicted of killing her Saudi employer, was about to be executed by sword.

The Southeast Asian country of 240 million people has recalled its ambassador for “consultations” and announced a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia, where more than 1 million Indonesians toil as maids and on construction sites.

Yudhoyono said the suspension would remain in place “until we are really certain there are regulations and an agreement on the protection of the rights of our workers.”

He said Jakarta was considering applying a similar ban to other Gulf states where migrant workers also face abuse and exploitation in the absence of any legal protection.

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