Saudis behead an Indonesian maid
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Saudis behead an Indonesian maid

Outrage erupts in Jakarta, reports Asia Sentinel
Indonesia is experiencing shock and indignation over the beheading by sword Saturday of a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia, with the Foreign Ministry announcing it has recalled the country’s ambassador for consultations.

Heru Lelono, a spokesman for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said Monday that the government is also considering a moratorium on sending workers to the desert kingdom.  He told reporters that the Saudis hadn’t informed the Indonesian government of the execution,   “which shows ill will in regard to the relationship between the two countries.” Even more shocking, a video of the execution was carried on a Saudi Arabian website.

Political observers say the Saudi beheading only adds more ammo against an already beleaguered Yudhoyono, whose critics have become increasingly vocal in recent months as 2014 elections near.  “This will be used to go after the president,” said a veteran politician in Jakarta. “This is just one more case against him.”

The beheading follows recent tribulations over the  sacking of the  ruling Democratic Party’s treasurer amid allegations of corruption. Muhammad Nazaruddin fled a summons to appear before corruption investigators weeks ago and has so far refused to come home from Singapore to face questioning. His lawyer has said his client will blow the whistle on senior members of the president’s party should he be compelled to testify.

The execution of the maid, Ruyati binti Sapubi, who was said to have stabbed her employer to death with a kitchen knife on Jan. 12, 2010, has focused attention on the fact that the country has some 6 million workers overseas, 75 percent of them women, and with large numbers recorded of abuse and violence against them. The executed woman said she was frequently abused verbally and was kept in the country against her will, according to a report by the Indonesian consulate general in Jeddah.  They provide a lucrative source of foreign exchange, with workers remitting US$7.1 billion in 2010.

Despite the large amount of money they send home, their safety abroad is still uncertain due to lack of regulations and government protection. Migrant Care, an NGO that provided advocacy for troubled migrant workers, recorded in 2009 that 1,018 migrant workers died abroad. As of October last year, the number of workers dying abroad reached 908, with most cases taking place in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.