• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 7:22am
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih
NewsHong Kong

Erwiana’s arrival in Hong Kong marred by dispute over accommodation

Disagreement over accommodation arrangements mars her arrival in city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 2:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 12:52pm

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the domestic helper allegedly abused by her employer, returned to Hong Kong yesterday afternoon to help with evidence in the trial.

Her return was marred by a disagreement at the airport about where she would stay. At one point, Erwiana and her lawyer refused to leave the terminal for the Indonesian consulate.

We don’t know why [officials] are putting so much pressure on [Erwiana]
EMAN VILLANUEVA

Police allegedly told them if they did not co-operate they would be sent back to Indonesia, Erwiana's companions said.

At about 5.15pm, Erwiana left for the consulate. She later agreed to stay in consulate accommodation on the condition she would not be separated from her lawyer, father, case worker and friend from Indonesia, said Eni Lestari of the Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee.

Three months after she left Hong Kong, Erwiana looked much healthier and the wounds on her face had healed.

She had earlier rejected an offer from the Indonesian foreign ministry office for consulate accommodation in Hong Kong.

"Erwiana decided to stay at accommodation provided by the Mission for Migrant Workers in Hong Kong. She sent a signed letter to police on April 3 indicating her wishes," said Lestari.

Lestari said Erwiana felt that Indonesian consular and foreign ministry officials were threatening her when they told her on Sunday: "We cannot be responsible if you cannot come with us."

Police said they had arranged for Erwiana to stay in the country's consulate under police protection. A spokeswoman added that police did not threaten Erwiana over the matter of accommodation but explained to her that arrangements about her stay would be reviewed if she refused to stay in consulate premises.

Eman Villanueva, of the Filipino Migrant Workers' Union in Hong Kong, said: "Erwiana is not under arrest. We don't know why they are putting so much pressure on her."

Erwiana is expected to stay in the city until Sunday.

Erwiana's former employer, Law Wan-tung, 44, has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault, and four counts of criminal intimidation against three domestic helpers. The case is due to resume on April 29.

On Monday evening, Hong Kong barrister-at-law Robert Tibbo commented on the actions of the Hong Kong authorities, saying that “the circumstances of Erwiana’s return to Hong Kong are nothing less than shocking”.

Mr Tibbo is legal advisor to the HK Helpers Campaign and also advised Edward Snowden during his visit to Hong Kong last year.

“The respective Hong Kong and Indonesian government interests are clearly adverse to Erwiana’s rights and interests. This is a case where Erwiana would be best protected by having Hong Kong lawyers stand between her and the respective Indonesian and Hong Kong governments so that the abuses of today are brought to an immediate stop. This would effectively remove the conflict of interests that exists between Erwiana and Hong Kong and Indonesian authorities”

With regards to reports that Erwiana was threatened with deportation and separated from her lawyer, father and friends, Mr Tibbo stated that the actions “amounted to nothing less than state oppression to compel Erwiana to comply with their demands”.

Additional reporting by Danny Mok

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This article is now closed to comments

Paul Christensen
This is outrageous behaviour by the Indonesian Consulate (who, of course are complicit in the whole utterly corrupt system of bring helpers to Hong Kong with all the associated kickbacks for themselves and the agents), but also by the HK Police. I have often wondered why ImmD tolerated the blatant corruption and people traf**** that is endemic in the FDH scheme as applied to Indonesia, and now I'm beginning to wonder if this goes deeper still. Why on earth would the HK Police (who used to have a pretty good reputation) commit such a fundamental breach of someone's basic human rights by requiring them to be, in effect, kidnapped?
And as an edit - what on earth is your comments system doing censoring the word "t r a f f i c k i n g"?
wumao
The Indonesian government fails to stop agencies charging excessive fees for training in Indonesia. The Indonesian consulate fails to acknowledge that abuse of helpers in Hong Kong is widespread. What kind of pressure are they trying to put on her by insisting she stay at the Indonesian Consulate?
chanaa
that, about sums up HK police & the authorities. It stank from day 1 when they refuse to investigate. SCMP should take credit for exposing this. Well done
wumao
HK-Explorer, there is a great deal of denial in Hong Kong of the fact that abuse of helpers is widespread. The HK Chief of Police denies abuse is widespread. The Indonesian Consulate denies abuse is widespread. It is very clear that these parties want to control Erwiana as much as possible.
wumao
SCMP, report the facts. Erwiana has been taken to the Indonesian Consulate against her will. She only went to the consulate after Hong Kong authorities threatened to deport her.
****hkhelperscampaign.com/erwiana-detained/
HK-Explorer
I am sure the HK police did not threaten Erwiana. Most likely a well thought out plan had been put in place to ensure Erwiana's security by the Indonesian Embassy and the Hong Kong Police. They will be doing everything to ensure her security and protection as they know this is a very charged situation and there are crazy people who may try and harm Erwiana or unduly influence her to drop the charges.
I am also pretty sure her Lawyer Mr Tibbo would have 100% known the arrangements prior to arriving in Hong Kong and waited for the last minute to get a PR win by pretending to try to change the arrangements.
Most likely changing the arrangements would not have been in Erwiana's best interests. In the end she did go to the embassy which means her lawyer knowing it is in her best interest and as he had his PR stunt acted like he gave in. Very well orchestrated by Mr Tibbo. (Police PR need to up their game)
MeredithM
Hi HK-Explorer,
Mr. Tibbo is not representing Erwiana. His comments were given as the lawyer of HK Helpers Campaign. Erwiana has been insisting that she be housed by the NGO that has been helping her since the beginning of the case. When Erwiana & co tried to leave the airport, the HK Police coerced her to go to the consulate against her wishes..
Meredith
amunro
The police could never have gone through with that threat: imagine the next day's headline, "Alleged abuse victim deported before start of trial." Our police should think ahead - they seem to be specialists in knee-jerk reactions. BTW - I thought it was Immigration that had the say over who is allowed to stay here?
Maria L. Yau
Good luck with your court, Erwiana. My thoughts are with you.
meoii
Mr Tibbo sure likes to make an extra buck off people in need. Typical lawyers.

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