They will fly with Garuda Indonesia; (they are) scheduled to take off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at mid-day on Friday
Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA) - Five Acehnese fishermen, who were repatriated from India recently, have tested negative for COVID-19 and will return home on Friday, according to deputy secretary general of the traditional fishing community Panglima Laot, Miftach Cut Adek.

"They will fly with Garuda Indonesia; (they are) scheduled to take off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at mid-day on Friday," Adek told journalists in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, on Thursday.

The fishermen, Basri bin Hamdani, Samudi, Samsul Kahar Kaoy, Helmi Arahman, and Husaini Husen, could not return home along with 23 other fishermen on February 3, 2021 after they tested positive for COVID-19 in their second swab test, he informed.

Therefore, they were again quarantined for a week at Wisma Padamangan in Jakarta and had to take more swab tests before being allowed to return home, he said.

The fishermen are expected to reach Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Aceh at 3 p.m. local time on Friday, he added.

As soon as they arrive, local authorities will send them to the Aceh Social Welfare and Maritime Affairs and Fishery offices before reuniting them with their families, he said.

Before their repatriation, the 28 fishermen had been detained in India for 11 months after their fishing boat KM BST 45 was intercepted by an Indian coast guard vessel on March 3, 2020 while poaching in the waters about 55 miles off Nicobar Island.

An Indian court released them on January 16, 2021 due to the advocacy of the Indonesian Embassy in Delhi, Aceh Provincial government, and the Indonesian Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

ANTARA has reported about repeated arrests of Acehnese fishermen for poaching in the waters of foreign countries.

Early in October, 2020, the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) had confirmed that 51 Acehnese fishermen had returned to Indonesia after being granted a royal pardon from Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn on his birthday on July 28, 2020.

The fishermen had received the pardon owing to efforts by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry through the Indonesian Consulate General in Songkla.

In early 2020, Thai authorities had detained 30 Acehnese fishermen and three children after they were caught poaching in Thailand's waters.

Thereafter, in February, 2020, at least 21 fishermen and three children had again been caught poaching in the country's waters.

The six children were repatriated to Indonesia on July 16, 2020. (INE)

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Translator: R.Fajri, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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