The state-sanctioned beheading of two Indonesian maids in two days in Saudi Arabia has prompted fierce protests in Indonesia and renewed criticism of the country's double standard on the death penalty as it prepares to execute two members of the Bali nine drug ring.
The executions were condemned by Indonesia's government even as it ignores global protests about its own plans to kill dozens of drug felons this year, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
On Friday, the Bali nine duo marked 10 years since the day they were arrested in Bali for their role as organisers of a heroin smuggling ring. The anniversary is doubly poignant because it is also Sukumaran's 34th birthday.
According to Indonesian activists, Indonesia's president Joko Widodo's policy of mass executions of drug traffickers is undermining the "moral legitimacy" of its ongoing efforts to rescue more than 200 of its citizens facing execution abroad.
Karni binti Medi Tarsim, 37, was beheaded in Yanbu, western Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, after being found guilty in 2012 for killing the four-year-old daughter of her employer.
It follows a similar execution in Medina of Siti Zainab, who killed the mother of the family she was caring for.
Hundreds of thousands of Indonesian women work in Saudi Arabia as maids and reports of exploitation and mistreatment are legion. Public concern for those that find themselves in peril in the oil-rich kingdom is widespread in Indonesia.
"This is painful and really hurts us, the Indonesian people. The Saudi Arabian government is really brutal for having executed two Indonesian migrant workers one after the other," said Migrant Care - an Indonesian NGO that advocates for some four million Indonesians working abroad, mostly as low paid labourers or domestic workers.
In the wake of the killings, Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Jakarta, Mustafa Ibrahim Al-Mubarak, was hauled in twice to receive a formal protest by the foreign ministry.
In a statement, Indonesia's foreign ministry noted its "regret and disappointment" that it wasn't consulted on the timing of the executions.
As Mr Widodo pleads for mercy for his own citizens on death row, he is rejecting similar calls for clemency from other national leaders, including Australia's Tony Abbott. Mr Joko has refused to return to Mr Abbott's recent phone calls.
The president's stance, says Migrant Care, is hypocritical and damages the prospects of saving Indonesians on death row abroad.
"The application of the death penalty at home will only make the Government lose its moral legitimacy to urge other countries to free Indonesian nationals who are on death row," executive director Anis Hidayah said.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Toma Allard, April 17, 2015
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