A terrific video showing a young man’s body being callously tossed into the sea triggered an international investigation and shed a spotlight on the “slave-like” circumstances onboard Chinese-owned vessels allegedly faced by Indonesian fishermen. It is the story of only two families, grieving brothers and sons who have died seeking to create a better life.
Sepri hadn’t been to sea before when he learned about the opportunity to work on a Chinese-owned fishing boat via a friend. In his village on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the promised money on offer was beyond anything the 25-year-old could dream of earning.
With the promise of training and a monthly salary of $400 (£326), he set sail on the Long Xing 629 fishing vessel in February last year with a party of 22 Indonesian men.
But Sepri never came home. No money has been submitted anyway. And again Rika hasn’t spoken to her dad. She had received a letter in early January. He had died by sea, throwing his body overboard into the Pacific Ocean.
Indonesian Crew’s Death Reports
Two other members of the Indonesian crew died on the 629 Long Xing. In December, already after 10 months at sea, Sepri and then another man died within days of each other. Although Ari is from the same village as Sepri, dies this year in March, shortly before the rest of the group rescues. Like Sepri, they cover their bodies in cloth and tossing over the edge. Like the Sepri, their families never having the chance to say goodbye either.
Efendi Pasaribu, a third critically ill man, will make it live to shore-but only. There was a possibility that all this may have gone unnoticed. It is just a few more deaths at sea unceremonious underwater burial filming. It is on a video coming to light, sparking a national uproar in Indonesia.
Instead, the video sparked a renewed controversy about the harassment of fishermen onboard Southeast Asian international vessels. The life stories on board the Long Xing 629 are shockingly familiar. They come only five years for over 4,000 foreign fishermen. It is mostly from Myanmar ( Burma) under rescue. Also, free from remote Indonesian islands. It exploits under slave-like conditions for years.
At the time Indonesia promised to fight for the end. It is of unregulated fishing and the exploitation of foreign vessels by fishers. As survivors of the Long Xing 629 started talking, it became clear that little had changed.