MPM Muhammadiyah Ready to Advocate for Indonesian Migrant Workers
MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, JAKARTA – Crimes against migrant workers are structural offenses. In addition to implicating numerous governmental officials, media frequently ignore the growing number of migrant labor exploitation issues.
To raise awareness and defend the rights of migrant workers, the Muhammadiyah Council for Community Empowerment (MPM) of conducted a movie discussion on “Undocumented” by Watchdoc at the Muhammadiyah Office of Jakarta.
The movie depicts stories of migrant workers in Malaysia from 2020-2022. According to the Head of the Indonesian Migrant Worker Protection Agency (BP2MI), Benny Ramdani said that the issue facing migrant workers constitutes a serious infringement of their human rights. Typically, illicit labor placement networks abroad are the ones that commit this crime.
The World Bank estimated that the number of Indonesian migrant workers was 9 million, but only 4.9 million were legally registered.
“There are two serious crimes, illegal placement and usury rent. Those who do not have money and want to work abroad, because the government has failed to provide employment, end up borrowing from loan sharks and in the end, this does not make them rich even though their salaries are high because every month they have to pay very high interest,” said Benny.
“Illegal placement and exorbitant rent are two major crimes. As a result of the government’s failure to offer job possibilities, those who lack the funds to go abroad are forced to borrow money from loan sharks. Despite earning large wages, they ultimately fail to become wealthy because they are trapped in debt and must pay exorbitant interest rates each month” said Benny.
The government finds it challenging to secure the protection of the large number of unregistered migrant workers. According to Benny, placement syndicates send 80% of the resumes. The victims are mostly women. They are subjected to sexual assault, bodily assault, unfair working conditions (slavery), and unreliable pay.
Benny claimed that the involvement of officials from the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police (Polri), ministries, state institutions, and even the BP2MI makes resolving the issue more challenging.
Benny hoped for a breakthrough from Muhammadiyah to create a narrative in support of migrant workers because of complexities of this issue and to fight against the involved officials.
Migrant workers are Indonesia’s second-largest source of foreign exchange and provide an average of Rp159 trillion in foreign currency each year, making it essential to raise awareness to protect them.
Furthermore, the Secretary of Muhammadiyah Izzul Muslimin expressed his concern about the migrant workers. He supported the MPM to actively advocate for the community, labors, fishermen, and farmers.
Izzul encouraged the MPM to collaborate with other Muhammadiyah bodies or boards to answer issues of the migrant workers.
Muhammadiyah will likely collaborate on the advocacy. Indeed, Muhammadiyah has special branches in 29 countries.
“Muhammadiyah as one of the socio-religious organizations should care about the migrant workers more,” said Izzul.