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Unraveling truth behind Indonesian seafarers' deaths on Chinese boats

Unraveling truth behind Indonesian seafarers' deaths on Chinese boats

Indonesian crew members of Chinese fishing boat Long Xing 629 arrived in Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, Friday (8/5/2020). ANTARA FOTO/Hasnugara/Zan/wsj.

The deaths of four Indonesian seafarers working for Chinese fishing vessels, of which three were buried at sea, comes as a shock to Indonesians amid their ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Jang Hansol, a South Korean YouTuber, exposed the grim reality behind Indonesians working for several Chinese fishing vessels.

Hansol voluntarily translated the horrific news on these Indonesian seafarers that MBC, a South Korean TV station, recently broadcast into Indonesian language on one of the videos he published through his YouTube channel, Korea Reomit.

Born in Daegu, one of the metropolitan cities in South Korea, on May 8, 1994, Hansol moved to Indonesia with his parents and resided in Malang, East Java, for several years. Hence, he is quite fluent in speaking Javanese and Indonesian languages.

Through his popular YouTube channel, with currently 3.11 million subscribers, this Korean published the video containing the MBC news titled "working for 18 hours, and if dead, the bodies will be buried at sea".

Published on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YALDZmX-W0I, Hansol’s video is titled "Berita Trending di Korea yang Bakal Bikin Orang Indonesia Ngamuk!" that means “A Trending News in Korea that Will Make Indonesians Mad!”

The video informing Indonesians of the mistreatment of Indonesian sailors aboard Chinese fishing boats was viewed by almost 6.2 million people, as of Saturday, at 12:53 p.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB).

MBC could have obtained a video footage on the burial at sea of the dead Indonesian crew and interviewed an Indonesian seafarer after two Chinese fishing boats docked at South Korea's Busan Port.

The Indonesian seafarer notified the South Korean TV station of the dismal working conditions and acts of discrimination that the Indonesian crew members were frequently subjected to by their Chinese masters.

In response to this case, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi revealed that the Indonesian Government was handling the protection of 46 Indonesian crew members and cases of three Indonesian crew, whose bodies were buried at sea.

Some 15 of the 46 Indonesian seafarers worked for fishing boat Long Xing 626, while eight others were employed by fishing vessel Long Xing 605; three worked for Tian Yu 8; and remaining 20 others were employed by Long Xing 606.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry revealed that on April 14-16, the Indonesian Embassy in Seoul had received notifications on the planned arrivals of Long Xing 605 and Tian Yu 8 carrying Indonesian crew members as well as on the deaths of Indonesian crew.

The two fishing vessels carried in total 46 Indonesian crew members to South Korea's waters and docked at Busan Port. However, they had left the port heading to China.

During their docking at Busan Port, the South Korean authorities did not allow them to leave since the 35 Indonesian crew members getting on board these two Chinese vessels were not officially registered as their crew.

In its place, the Busan Port authorities considered them as passengers. Most of the Indonesian crew members had been repatriated to Indonesia, according to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

The seafarers, who had returned home, comprised 11 crew of the Long Xing 605 and Tian Yu 8. They flew back to Indonesia on April 24, and 18 crew of the Long Xing 606, who left South Korea for Indonesia on May 3.

Two Indonesian crew members working for Long Xing 606 were reportedly still in the Korean waters to complete the country's immigration requirements prior to their repatriation, while 15 crew of Long Xing 209 would have flown back to Indonesia on May 8.

Related news: Indonesia to summon Chinese ambassador over deaths of Indonesian crew

However, one of these 15 Indonesian crew, who would have been repatriated after completing the 14-day quarantine at a hotel on May 8, was reported by the Busan Medical Center to have died of pneumonia.

In conclusion, three of the 46 Indonesian crew died while boarding their fishing vessels and their bodies were buried at sea, while the other died of pneumonia in Busan.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry is working to ensure that the Indonesian seafarers' rights are fulfilled and to conduct further investigation into those in charge of the Chinese fishing vessels regarding the burials at sea.

The Chinese company employing the Indonesian seafarers claimed that the burial at sea had met the International Labour Organization (ILO) Seafarer's Service Regulations and received approval from the respective deceased workers' families.

According to the ILO Seafarer's Service Regulations, a seafarer is buried at sea if "the death is caused by infectious disease and the deceased has been sterilized; and unable to keep the corpse for reasons of hygiene or the port of entry forbids vessels to keep cadavers, or other legitimate reasons".

In uncovering the truth behind these Indonesian seafarers' horrific story, human rights watchdog Migrant CARE urges Indonesia to propose an investigation into the alleged violations of the Indonesian crew's human rights onboard Chinese fishing vessels.
Related news: Long Xing's 14 Indonesian crew flown home from South Korea

Related news: China argues Indonesian crew's sea burial meets ILO rules


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