By Asma Nadia
My brothers and sisters, please allow me to apologize for calling you “heroes” but incapable of being your shelter. Although all kind of slogans cheered you in the airport: welcome Foreign Exchange Heroes!
Heroes, figure worth to receive honours, for their bravery, struggle and sacrifice. But the facts, you were far from a square deal. Misery of Indonesian labours (TKI) has not yet been resolved – after being tortured, unpaid, persecuted, raped, and deportee – and now added up.
Constitutions article 27 paragraph 2 stated that every citizen has the rights upon his/her work and proper living for humanity. That means, The Constitution has instructed the government to provide work field and proper living care for the citizens.
Luckily, not many people blamed – or protested – when the government incapable of running their jobs. Even though it has become daily complaints about how difficult it was of finding a job. Such condition has made millions of people leaving their loved ones and working abroad. These actions have made the government’s work become easier. Because, TKI has not only earned money to support their families but also became one of the biggest foreign exchange contributor.
With such role, weren’t you deserved to have protection and the best service? A simple reward at least? If the government appreciate TKI then they will protect you. If the government fully protects you, then other countries will be very careful to act despotic. Because they know, repressing TKI means facing with Indonesia.
Even, Israel was willing to release thousands of captivates just to compensate with their one and only soldier detained by Palestine. The manner that strengthens their soldiers’ moral, because they believe their government would always protect them. Or United States government intensively protected their citizens who were threatening abroad.
In other occasion, Philippine’s president on certain time, personally welcomed a Philippine’s labour who came home after being tortured in other country. Recognition, advocacy, and protection, those are in which we still owe you.
Have I shared these stories, although not as hard as you endured, a little discrimination as a hijabi Muslimah, who without her hajj or umra’s uniform, by the outsiders often perceived as TKI?
In Hong Kong after held up a writing skills workshop to our women labour, the airport officers asked me to stand in TKI’s line. In Swiss, an officer accused me for looking for job vacancy, while I came to meet an invitation to stay as a guest writer.
Not completely their faults, because more unfriendly welcome were received in my homeland. Intercepted and forced to show my passport when I arrived in Soekarno Hatta, while asked to TKI’s terminal. The manners that made me stunned. Above the missed allegation, if only for data collection, shouldn’t it be computerized and coordinated to the related institutions, without having to be troublesome to TKI?
Then, the requirement to report amount of money carried to the airport officers in the specialized terminal, just like you said. If it was merely for data collection, there should be a better way. Government could make a policy that protects, such as directing you to 24 hour bank cashier (multi banks), to save years of hard work, so you could be safe on your way back to home town.
Socialized, empowered all TKI if they have not understood banking. It took process and patience, but it was the cost for a concern. As it is the time to let TKI choose what they want to take for their transportations from the airport, without being required to take “travel” transportation with ‘fantastic’ fee, although some of them have been picked up by their families.
How sad when a sister came from abroad after a long period of work, told her experience about Soekarno Hatta Airport, how it felt like hell for her and her friends. “Our energy has been squeezed in foreign country, why should we be squeezed in our own country?”
Looking at her shining eyes, I lost words. Ah, what else could I say. I pictured a long line of unsolved TKI’s problems. So many miseries! And, news after news came to us about you, lately, drained my tears.
My sisters and brothers, my heroes. Forgive us for thinking, an envelope of compensation to your families after your death, always enough to represent a piece of gratitude, which we failed to bestow upon your life.