Indonesian fishermen demand fair treatment from Australia
Thu, May 31 2012 04:15 | 1167 Views
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - Hundreds of fishermen from East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province have called for reciprocal treatment from Australia, following the recent clemency for drug convict Schapelle Corby.
"A fair treatment from Australia is expected in response to the Indonesian government`s decision to cut Corby`s sentence," East Nusa Tenggara fishermen`s coordinator Muhamad Ridwan said here on Wednesday.
He spoke on behalf of six Indonesian fishermen who were caught in the Australian waters and charged with entering the Australian territory without legal documents.
Ridwan said Corby`s clemency was in contrast with the way Australian coastal guards had treated the Indonesian fishermen.
"Our boats were destroyed and burned and the fishermen were tortured before being tried and finally jailed in Australia," he added.
"So, the fishermen also need to be given compensation in the form of clemency or even amnesty," Ridwan said.
Ridwan, Suhardi and Gabriel Oma were just three of the hundreds of fishermen from the region who had been arrested and jailed in Australia.
"We are three of the hundreds of fishermen of East Nusa Tenggara who have been arrested by the Australian government and jailed on charges of trespassing the neighbour`s territory while fishing," Ridwan said.
He added the Australians` actions were unfair, because the fishermen were arrested while they were still in Indonesian waters as per the compass and equipment they carried.
"But we have always been caught since 2009, and four of our boats have been burned and drowned by the Australian coast guards while we were still in Indonesian waters," Ridwan said.
He stated, during the judicial proceedings, the Australian court had ruled in favour of the fishermen and had in fact ordered the Australian government to pay compensation to the fishermen for the damaged ships, but they never received it.
"The loss suffered by East Nusa Tenggara fishermen from 2002 has reached more than 50 boats, or more than Rp800 million, which does not compare with a fine of only Rp100 million for Corby," Ridwan noted.
He said the clemency for Corby must have an impact on the fate of the poor fishermen. (*)
Editor: B Kunto Wibisono
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