14 Acehnese fishermen detained in Myanmar return home

14 Acehnese fishermen detained in Myanmar return home

Head of the Aceh Provincial Social Service Office Alhudri (right) greets the arrival of Acehnese fishermen from Myanmar at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport, Blang Bintang,Aceh Besar District, Aceh Province, on Wednesday (Jan 30, 2019). (ANTARA FOTO/Ampelsa/ama).

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Fourteen Acehnese fishermen who had been detained in Myanmar for more than two months for alleged illegal fishing in the country`s waters have returned home on Wednesday.

The fishermen were flown from Yangon, Myanmar, and arrived at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport at 03.55 p.m., Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Upon their arrival in Banda Aceh, the fishermen were handed over by Indonesian Ambassador Myanmar Iza Fadri and the Ministry`s Director for Citizen Protection, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, to acting Aceh Governor Nova Iriansyah.

"Since we received information on the arrest of Bintang Jasa fishing boat, we have worked in coordination with the ministry and the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon. We believe that the government would do the best because protection of Indonesian citizen has become its priority," Iriansyah stated.

The fishermen are all in good health after being detained for two months and 17 days in Kawthaung, some 38 hours from Yangon by land.

On Nov 6, 2018, 16 fishermen aboard Bintang Jasa fishing boat were detained by Myanmar Navy for illegally entered the country`s waters. They were also accused of illegal fishing.

One of the boat crew died when he tried to escape, while the ship captain is still detained in Myanmar for further legal process.

On Jan 24, the Myanmar authority released the fishermen.

"We continued to convince Myanmar authority that the incident was merely due to lack of navigation system. The 14 fishermen were released considering the good bilateral relations," Fadri noted.

The Indonesian Embassy in Yangon would provide legal assistance for the ship captain who would face the first trial in February.

Reporting by Yuni Arisandy Sinaga, Azis Kurmala
Editing by Sri Haryati