Photos courtesy of AP
JEDDAH - Relatives of the four Indonesian maids who were allegedly severely beaten by their Saudi employers in Aflaj more than two weeks ago, along with workers' rights activists, protested yesterday outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, demanding that the remains of the two maids who died of their injuries and the two survivors be sent home immediately.
"We started this protest this morning with 100 participants, including all of the relatives of the four maids, outside the Saudi embassy here," said Wahyu Susilo of Migrant Care in an interview from Jakarta. "We have erected a tent outside the embassy and we will go on a hunger strike until the Saudi authorities send the women home."
The protest was mostly calm except for a few scuffles with Indonesian police who kept a watchful eye on the protesters from nearby. It was the second protest in front of the Saudi embassy in as many weeks. On Aug. 13 the same group of labor activists held a protest and handed over a protest letter to embassy officials from relatives of the victims.
Siti Tarwiyah Slamet, 32, and Susmiyati Abdul Fulan, 28, both died of their injuries on Aug. 3 in Alflaj, a town 320 kilometers south of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Tari Tarsim, 27, and Ruminih Surtim, 25, both survived two days of alleged beatings by several men from the Saudi family that they all worked for after being accused of practicing black magic on the son of their employers. Both were left severely injured and were transferred to Riyadh Medical Complex for further treatment from a hospital in Alfaj. Saudi police have since arrested seven male suspects for interrogation and took Tari away from the hospital for questioning on Aug. 20.
Susmiyati's brother Supomo told the Jakarta Post that he wanted his sister's body repatriated as soon as possible and that all those responsible for killing his sister should be severely punished.
The Saudi authorities have still not released the bodies of the two deceased maids to the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh, and have also not allowed the embassy official access to the two remaining survivors.
"We want them to be under our custody, but our request has not been acted upon," an Indonesian diplomat told Arab News in an interview this week. "We also still haven't had access to the bodies of the two deceased domestic workers."
The relatives of the victims and activists have vowed to continue their protests outside the Saudi embassy until all four victims return home.
"The Saudi government must investigate thoroughly and the employer and his relatives involved in the incident brought to justice," said Wahyu.
-- Read Human Rights Watch's statement on what happened to these maids.