x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Indonesia demanding justice over maid's torture

The Indonesian president has called for justice for what he described as the "extraordinary torture" of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia.

The Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ,has demanded justice for what he described as the "extraordinary torture" of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia in hospital with wounds allegedly inflicted by her employer.

Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, 23, is in a stable condition in a hospital in Medina, where she has been receiving treatment since November 8 for wounds including gashes to her lips and face caused by scissors, officials said.

An angry Mr Yudhoyono said he would dispatch a team to Saudi Arabia to follow up on the case, a day after the Indonesian government summoned the Saudi ambassador to express its deep concern.

"I want to convey the very shocking news about what happened to an Indonesian in Saudi Arabia," Mr Yudhoyono told a cabinet meeting.

"I have instructed the foreign minister to handle it seriously. Sumiati was subjected to extraordinary torture. I want justice to be upheld. I want all-out diplomacy," he said.

Sumiati was allegedly cut with scissors and burned with an iron by her employers, in the latest in a string of abuse cases against Indonesian workers in the Middle East and Malaysia.

The young woman from Dompu in West Nusa Tenggara province went to Saudi Arabia four months ago to look for work, joining thousands of Indonesian men and women who do manual labour in the kingdom.

Her treatment has strained relations between the two mainly Muslim countries in the middle of the Haj.

The Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, told reporters: "Yesterday we called the Saudi ambassador to the foreign ministry. We conveyed our stand and condemned what happened.

"The Saudi government also condemned it and considered the action to be inappropriate and a violation of humanity. Together, we'll ensure that the party responsible is punished."

Ms Sumiati had suffered "torture of an extraordinary nature" which left her with external and internal injures, he added.

Mr Natalegawa said similar cases of abuse had "happened repeatedly" in Saudi Arabia, and Jakarta wanted to make sure steps were taken to protect Indonesian domestic workers in future.

An Indonesian consulate official in Saudi Arabia was quoted in the Jakarta Globe newspaper as saying the jealous wife of Ms Sumiati's employer was suspected of inflicting the injuries.

"From the picture on her passport Sumiati is pretty. The wife tortured her because of jealousy. The victim was not treated in an Islamic way," the official, Didi Whayudi was quoted as saying.

Indonesia's outrage at the abuse of Ms Sumiati stands in contrast to its muted official response to widespread allegations of torture by its own security forces against peaceful political activists and other detainees.