Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

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]

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