Indonesia Raising 'Blood Money' for Domestic Worker on Death Row in Saudi Arabia

A photo of Sutinah Sulastri, 39, is seen on her sister's phone in Ungaran, East Java. (JG Photo/Dhana Kencana)

By : Jakarta Globe | on 3:27 PM March 24, 2014
Category : News, Crime, Featured

A photo of Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad is seen on her sister's phone in Ungaran, East Java. (JG Photo/Dhana Kencana) A photo of Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad is seen on her sister's phone in Ungaran, East Java. (JG Photo/Dhana Kencana)

Jakarta. Time is running out for Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad, an Indonesian domestic worker sentenced to death for murdering her employer in Saudi Arabia.

Satinah, 41, of Ungaran, Central Java, is scheduled for beheading on April 4 if the Indonesian government fails to fork over the "blood money" requested by the deceased's family. The central government has been in negotiations with the family of Nura al-Garib since Satinah was sentenced to death in 2010, reaching an agreement in July of last year to pay Rp 21 billion ($1.84 million) in diyat — an Arabic compensation paid to the families of victims in lieu of harsher sentences by the oil-rich kingdom's draconian justice system.

The account is currently Rp 3 billion short, said Indonesian singer Melanie Subono — who has led the charge to raise funds for the imprisoned domestic helper. The pop singer has backed fundraising efforts for Satinah since writing about the woman on her blog last week. The woman's plight has since inspired a Twitter hashtag (#SaveSatinah) and a social media campaign as the clock ticked down to her scheduled execution.

"Today, Indonesian migrant workers abroad are putting aside their almost non-existent salary to get Rp 9 billion collectively, the rest of the money needed to free Satinah," Melanie wrote in a March 19, 2014 blog post"We did it ourselves. The silence of our government [does not help], so we started it."

Satinah was sentenced to death for the 2007 killing of her employer, a woman the maid accused of months of physical and emotional abuse. The migrant worker said that al-Garib was reportedly attempting to smash her head into a wall when she struck the employer in the neck with a rolling pin, killing her. Satinah allegedly stole 37,970 Saudi Arabian riyal ($10,124) and fled the house before her eventual arrest.

She has admitted to killing al-Garib but said it was in self defense.

Her execution has been postponed four times since 2011 as Indonesian officials hashed out an agreement with the family and their counterparts in Riyadh.

The Semarang district administration has backed the fundraising efforts, sending a letter to its agencies on Monday imploring them to help gather the funds.

"We have sent the letter to all agency heads," Budi Kristono, secretary at the Semarang district government, told the Indonesian news portal "The funds will be distributed via the provincial government's bank account."

The hosts of Indonesian Idol also rallied behind the cause, issuing a call for support on Friday's program.

The woman's family said they were thankful of all the attention given to Satinah's case.

"We did not expect that there were people on Indonesian Idol who still think about the fate of my sister," Lestari, Satinah's sister-in-law, told Indonesian news portal "We feel so lucky because there are other migrant workers who are going through the same thing, but did not get this kind of attention. 

"I pray that all the donation money will be raised soon."

Satinah is one of 45 Indonesian migrant workers sitting on death row in Saudi Arabia, according to data from Indonesia Migrant Care. Another 375 Indonesian migrants faced the death penalty worldwide in 2012, the migrant worker advocacy group said.

Saudi officials beheaded an Indonesian maid named Ruyati on June 18, 2011 for killing her employer with a meat cleaver, prompting an official complaint from Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the issuance of a two-year moratorium on sending Indonesian migrants to work in the kingdom.

The moratorium is still in effect.

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