Manama, Bahrain. Photo by iStock.
Manama, Bahrain. Photo by iStock.

Indonesians are getting around their government’s ban on citizens being employed in Gulf countries by flying via other Asian countries or leaving Indonesia on the pretense of attending pilgrimages.

Despite the Indonesian government’s 2015 ban on citizens working in Gulf countries, many Indonesian workers are still heading to work in the region. One of their favored destinations is Bahrain, and to get there, they employ alternative means, GDN Online reported, citing a spokesman from the Indonesian Embassy in Bahrain.

The embassy said it continues to receive complaints from domestic workers with legitimate working visas in Bahrain about abusive employers and non-payment of wages. Most of the workers making the complaints arrived in Bahrain after the 2015 ban.

Many of these workers flew out of Malaysia, Singapore and other ASEAN countries to evade the scrutiny of immigration authorities in Indonesia, the embassy said.

Some workers who claimed they were heading to Saudi Arabia on a religious pilgrimage instead ended up being domestic workers in the country, Indonesian Ambassador to Bahrain Nur Syahrir Rahardjo said in a previous interview.

The 2015 ban, covering 21 Middle East countries, was imposed after numerous abuse cases involving Indonesian workers came to light. In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed two Indonesian domestic workers after they were convicted of murder.

The Indonesian government said it will consider Indonesians who defy the ban on working in the Gulf to be “illegal residents”.