In a cell at Tanjung Pinang in Riau, Indonesia, 64-year-old Vietnamese fisherman Nguyen Van Tu struggles alone with aching legs. He has not been found guilty of any crime, but has been detained for more than 20 months.
In the summer of 2020, the pair of fishing vessels Tu worked on were caught illegally casting their trawling nets in Indonesian waters. This was Tu’s first trip on the blue wooden vessels. Before that, he spent more than three years working on a similar pair of trawlers in the South China Sea.
“Because the nets near the Vietnamese shore were empty, I had to look for vessels that went further. Sometimes they go into the waters of Malaysia and Indonesia,” Tu said.
Under Indonesian law, hired fishermen are not punished and are often released after a month of detention. However, Tu can’t afford the plane ticket home and has been stuck in the Indonesian prison.
Vo Kieu Bao Uyen