Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Not Only the Children who Suffer

                                               The heartbreaking true story of a young
                                         Indonesian fisherman in Australian jails...

It’s not only the jailed children who suffer 

How long did three year old Aril* struggle; each breath harder than the next, as gradually his lungs filled with the thick white ‘syrup’ from his asthma? His mother, feeling tired, distraught and helpless to assist him grew more and more anxious. Would someone PLEASE help!

Her husband and the child’s father Ruslan* languished in a tough maximum security prison in Perth, Western Australia, classed as ‘vile scum’ by the then Prime Minster (now Foreign Minister) Kevin Rudd and although not sentenced or even tried he was living Rudd’s wish that he ‘rot in jail’, but how was his son to know that the ‘rot in hell’ call was the Australian government wish for him also.

Like all Indonesian prisoners in Western Australia prisons, Ruslan worked hard for his $6 per day ‘wage’. He spent nothing on his own behalf, conscious of the needs of his impoverished family back home.

The only ‘bread winner’ for his family,  the young 28 year old fisherman was had taken a job as a deck hand on a people smuggler boat, not by design, or wish but purely as a matter of circumstance. One day fishing to eke out a poor but respectable livelihood; next to partake on a large scale criminal exercise, where the real villains, hidden from the reality of their malfeasance behind oversized dark sunglasses, toasting their ‘success’ at the five star hotels in Jakarta.

Torn by guilt at having left his family in desperate circumstances, he worked every day in the Australian maximum security prison, alongside a number of his fellow countrymen and also alongside some of the nation’s worst child sex offenders.

What Aril didn’t understand was that the Australian authorities were not going to allow him to use this small income to send back home to his family in Indonesia. In the meantime, little Amril continued to struggle, hour by hour weakening, and his by now hysterical mother, paralysed by her inability to assist began to destroy herself.

The Australian Federal Police who were so quick to arrest the fishermen were strangely blind to those masterminds who were sipping the monthly fisherman salary in just one cocktail in the splendour of a Jakarta hotel.

 Amril, who had tried so hard to sustain life in his illness-wracked body, could no longer breathe. His death, in part in relief from the suffering. A bottle of ventolin would have cost USD$8.00 in Australia, but for Amril’s mother this represented a fortune. A boy’s life had just been valued at less than $8.00.

Ruslan was brutally told by Australian prison authorities of the consequences of his crime, and left to think about it alone not only in this prison in a foreign country, but in his heart where his family had once been the sole occupiers.

His wife hangs-on but for how long?

Ruslan still remains in jail for people smuggling. He is traumatised about having lost his son, and wonders what will now happen to his devastated wife.

It will be four years before he will get an answer to this question.
Ros. B. Taylor

 (*) not real names

November 2011

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