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Chinese Fishing Ship Dumps Indonesian Crew to Sea

7 May 2020 12:51 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A video went viral after being broadcasted by a South Korean news channel showing a body of Indonesian ship crew thrown out to sea from a Chinese fishing ship. The video revealed slavery practices and the exploitation of Indonesian ship crews on the ship.

The vide was first broadcasted by Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on May 6, 2020. The video was provided by a surviving ship crew to the South Korean government and MBC in an attempt to request for help as the ship moors at Busan Port.

Based on MBC's investigation, the incident occurred in the Pacific Ocean on March 30, 2020. The video was also shared by YouTube channel MBCNEWS with the title "[Exclusive] Working 18 Hours a Day, If Ill and Died, Buried at Sea".

"The body that was thrown out to sea is the body of Ari, 24-years old, an Indonesian sailor who died after working on the ship for more than one year," MBC reported.

Before the body was dumped in a coffin, the Chinese sailors conducted a simple funeral by lighting incense and pouring alcohol.

Before Ari, there were two Indonesian sailors' bodies that were also thrown out to sea, Alfata (19-years old) and Sepri (24-years old).

Based on agreements and regulations, sailors who died on board the ship in the middle of the sea must be returned to their country. However, Ari's partner, an Indonesian sailor who wishes to remain anonymous (sailor A), stated in an interview with MBC that he never thought that Ari's body will be thrown out to sea.

"What I know is that we are going to land to return the body," he said.

Meanwhile, other sailors also admitted that the condition aboard the ship is terrible and the crews are being exploited.

According to another Indonesian sailor (sailor B), the majority of Chinese sailors drink bottled water bought on land, but Indonesian crews were forced to drink seawater. They said they feel sick after drinking seawater.

"I first drink unfiltered seawater. I was dizzy, then I cough mucus from my throat," said sailor B, who also said that he is working 18-hours every day.

Meanwhile, sailor A said that he has to stand and work for 30 straight hours, and was not allowed to sit except to eat once very six hours.

Five Indonesian sailors working on the Chinese ship only received KRW 140,000, or equals to IDR 1.7 million after working for 13 months. With that amount, the sailors only receive KRW 11,000, ot equals to IDR 135,000 each month.

A South Korean vlogger, Hansol, who managed a YouTube channel called Korea Reomit, discussed and translated MBC's report and said that based on a document containing a statement from the ship crew, the crew will be cremated and returned to Indonesia if he had died. Also in the document, Hansol said that the crews have insured USD 10,000, which equals to IDR 150 million that will be disbursed to their heirs if they died.

An appeal attorney from the Kim Jong-Cheol Public Service Center asserted that there have been exploitations above the ship and the victims were unable to return home because their passports were confiscated and that they have deposited a large amount of money.

The Chinese fishing ship was built to fish tuna, but occasionally catches sharks to harvest shark fins.

"The ship catch twenty or more sharks everyday. It is said that there are 16 boxes containing shark fins on board the ship. If one box weighs 45 kilograms, the total will be around 800 kilograms," said environmental activist Lee Yong-ki. This is why the ship was reluctant to go to port.

Lee said that the ship will not stay long in a port although a ship crew had died because they are afraid of being caught for illegal fishing.

Hansol said that the ship crews were transferred to a different ship and arrived at the Busan port on April 27, 2020, and can only wait for 10 days. It was then a crew who suffered from chest pain was rushed to the hospital and died also on April 27, 2020.

A South Korean human rights organization who were alerted about the death of the crew immediately initiated an investigation.

Kim Jong-cheol said that South Korea can immediately conduct an investigation because it has ratified an international protocol on the prevention of human trafficking, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. However, just two days after the ship immediately went out to sea.

Other Indonesian ship crews who were quarantined in Busan requested the South Korean government to launch a full investigation on the Chinese fishing ship to reveal the human rights violation that occurred on board the ship.

TEMPO.CO



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