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10 May 2020

ABC News

Indonesia: Government condemns alleged abuse of fishermen aboard Chinese vessels after release of footage showing disposal of body bag

“Indonesia condemns abuse of fishermen aboard Chinese boats after release of corpse video”, 11 May 2020

Indonesia's Government has condemned the alleged abuse of Indonesian fishermen aboard a Chinese fishing vessel, after footage of a body bag being thrown overboard caused widespread outrage in the South-East Asian country.

"We condemn the inhuman treatment against our crew members working at the Chinese fishing company," said Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in a video conference, stating that 49 fishermen aboard the Long Xin 629 were forced to work 18-hour days in poor conditions.

"Based on the information from the crews, the company has violated human rights."

Indonesia previously summoned the Chinese ambassador over the matter and Ms Marsudi has called for Chinese authorities to conduct an investigation into the company that operates the vessel.

Footage first aired by South Korean broadcaster MBC News… showed crew members of the Long Xin 629 disposing of an orange body bag overboard.

At least three Indonesian crew were reported to have died…

Ms Marsudi said that "China's Foreign Affairs Ministry has responded to our inquiry [about the sea burials] and said they were conducted in line with the maritime code and International Labour Organization's rules."

"They threw the body straight overboard," an Indonesian crew member… detailing a range of alleged abuses against the vessel's workers.

These included being forced to work 30 hours straight with meal breaks only every six hours, and being reduced to drinking filtered sea water.

"I've had headaches. Indeed, we couldn't drink the water. Even until I've had phlegm [in my throat]."…

Lawyers for the fishers said the men had received less than $US300 ($457) for a full year's work as opposed to the $US300 they were supposed to be paid monthly under their employment contracts.

The incident has again shone a light on the mistreatment of South-East Asian seafaring workers, particularly aboard Chinese-owned vessels…

The Indonesian Migrant Worker Union said a lack of domestic regulatory oversight meant many Indonesians working abroad, including fishers, were likely to be exploited or in forced labour situations.

"The gap in regulation makes workers vulnerable to exploitation, and even often victims of criminal human trafficking," general secretary Hariyanto Suwarno said in a statement…

Part of the following timelines

Indonesia: Media reports separate incidents of alleged forced labour, trafficking, & killings involving Chinese fishing vessels; incl. co. response

China's distant-water fishing fleet raises concern over labour rights and commercial sustainability