JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - The Saudi Arabian government has called on the Indonesian government not to overreact to cases involving Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia as many aspects needed to be considered before they were fully investigated. The call was made through the Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia, Abdulrahman Al-Khayyath, in an interview with ANTARA at his official residence on Wednesday evening.
Al-Khayyath was interviewed on reports that an Indonesian migrant worker was tortured by her employer in Saudi Arabia. "I was summoned by the Foreign Affairs Ministry here and received a protest note from the Indonesian government on the issue of torture of an Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia. On behalf of the Royal Saudi Kingdom, I have expressed our deep regrets over the case," said Al-Khayyath.
The Royal Saudi Kingdom, he added, especially regretted the fact that the case had caused a furor in Indonesia at a time when the two countries were observing Idul Adha (Day of Sacrifice) and the Hajj pilgrimage had reached its peak. The ambassador emphasized the Saudi government would make sure that the party guilty of the torture of the Indonesian migrant worker, Sumiati, would be called to account. Then, based on the evidence currently being collected by law enforcers in Saudi Arabia, he or she would be taken to court.
"We are grateful to the Indonesian government, through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, for having entrusted the thorough investigation into the case to the law enforcement institutions in Saudi Arabia," Al-Khayyath said.
He added that Riyadh would like to see the Indonesian government not overreact to the torture case considering the fact that there were more than 1.0 million Indonesians working in Saudi Arabia. Compared to the number, the percentage of negative happenings was very small. Al-Khayyath also said that the majority of Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia were satisfied with their working conditions.
Many workers who had returned to Indonesia later came back to Saudi Arabia to work again. The average Indonesian migrant worker received other kinds of benefit from his or her employer like being taken on vacation in Europe or other countries.
He said the Saudi government was providing full legal protection for migrant workers, including those from Indonesia. "We thank Indonesian migrant workers who work in Saudi Arabia. But it should also be noted that they were financially contributing a lot to their own country, said the ambassador. Elaborating, he said, if each of the more than one million Indonesian workers sent home one hundred US dollars per month, it meant there was a monthly flow of 100 million dollars from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia.
"I think this is a huge amount of money, especially if it is accumulated over a year from the more than 1,0 million Indonesian workers there," he said.
With regard to the reaction in Indonesia on the issue, Ambassador Al-Khayyath asked the Indonesian government to understand that these days were not a suitable time for visits by ministers or high-ranking officials to Saudi Arabia to check on the Sumiati case. "Entrust it to us. If Indonesian officials do come to Saudi Arabia now, who they will see. Our officials are very busy attending to the Hajj pilgrimage," he said.
The Indonesian Consulate General in Jidda, Saudi Arabiia, had received a report that an Indonesian migrant worker from Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara province, had been taken to King Fahd hospital in Medina. The worker, Sumiati, had reportedly been tortured by the wife of her employer and sustained serious injuries to many parts of her body.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry, through its spokesperson Michael Tene, stated on Tuesday that the victim’s physical condition was very bad, her two legs were almost paralyzed, the skin on her body and head had peeled off, one middle was finger fractured, her eyebrows were bruised and her upper lip had been cut off.