Indonesian ambassador wasn't informed of execution

Indonesian ambassador wasn't informed of execution
Family members of beheaded Indonesian Siti Zainab display a poster bearing her portrait.

JAKARTA - Indonesian rights groups have condemned the Saudi Arabian government for failing to notify the Indonesian government about the execution of migrant worker and Indonesian citizen Siti Zaenab Duhri Rupa, as Jakarta demands clarification from Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Mustafa bin Ibrahim al-Mubarak, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry office on Wednesday, said the execution took him by surprise as well.

"Usually, for anything concerning foreign citizens, the relevant embassy [is] notified. This is a normal procedure. But I have to find out if the [Indonesian] embassy was not notified or not. Today I have no information. I have to get back to my government," he said on the sidelines of a meeting between representatives of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries and Vice President Jusuf Kalla at the State Palace.

Al-Mubarak later emphasised that ties between the two countries are "always good". Jakarta has since communicated its objection to Siti's sudden execution with Riyadh. Siti had been sentenced to death for the stabbing murder of her Saudi employer, but there was no warning that her execution was imminent.

"The ambassador said he would forward our complaint to [the Saudi government in] Riyadh, claiming [the embassy] was also unaware of the situation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said.

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo would wait for the Saudi response.

According to the ministry, Siti's body has already been buried by Saudi authorities in accordance with Islamic law.

The absence of advance warning has triggered strong protests from human rights advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and Migrant Care. Both have condemned the Saudi government for not alerting relevant parties ahead of time, while at the same time questioning the seriousness of the Indonesian government's assistance to migrant workers facing death sentences abroad.

"The death penalty is against human rights, but [this act] also violated principles of good relations between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia," HRWG executive director Rafendi Djamin said.

Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah demanded that Indonesia "declare the Saudi ambassador to Indonesian persona non grata as a form of a protest".

Anis cited a similar incident in June 2011, when Saudi Arabia beheaded Ruyati Satubi - an Indonesian who had been sentenced to death for killing her Saudi employer - without prior notice, adding the latest incident proved "the Saudi government underestimated Indonesia".

The Ruyati case triggered public outrage after the government acknowledged that the execution was carried out without prior notification.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has maintained that the government expended considerable energy trying to save Siti from execution.

According to ministry data, between 2011-2015, the government successfully lobbied for the reprieve of 238 Indonesians abroad who had been sentenced to death. Another 229 people are still hoping for pardon.

As many as 467 Indonesians have died by capital punishment abroad, including 28 in Saudi Arabia, 168 in Malaysia, 15 in China, four in Singapore, one in Vietnam and two in Laos.

Human rights campaigners have called for the abolishment of the death penalty in Indonesia to bolster the government's efforts to secure reprieves for citizens facing the death penalty abroad.

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