Indonesia migrant workers rally for Hong Kong murder victims

Around 200 migrant workers held a vigil Sunday to mourn the two young Indonesian women brutally slain in Hong Kong, allegedly by a British banker.

Messages from relatives and friends of the two victims -- Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiahsih -- were read out at the ceremony held at Victoria Park in the heart of the city.

Participants also made donations for the girls' families in Indonesia, and performed songs and prayers in their memory.

"I hope the killer will be punished and feel what my cousin was suffering," one woman, who said she was a relative of Ningsih, told those gathered -- reducing many in the crowd to tears.

The woman, who only gave her name as Jumiati, later told reporters: "I feel devastated. Until now, I can hardly believe that one of the murder victims is my cousin."

British banker Rurik Jutting has been charged with the grisly murder of the two Indonesian women whose bodies were found in his upmarket apartment, one of them decomposing in a suitcase.

The 29-year-old securities trader lived streets away from the neon-lit bars of Hong Kong's famous red-light district.

Both of the victims formerly worked in Hong Kong as domestic workers.

Rights groups have said domestic workers face tough challenges when they work in the southern Chinese city with restrictive laws leaving them vulnerable to abuse and with little ability to change jobs or move up the social ladder.

Activists have also accused the Indonesian authorities of doing little to help the victims' families.

"We are all migrant workers and want protection of our rights. We demand our government make sure all migrant workers abroad are protected," one community leader said during Sunday's vigil.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has rejected the accusations, saying officials had flown into Hong Kong to handle the matter and were in contact with the victims' family members.

"The protection of Indonesians and Indonesian workers overseas is our top priority. For the past few years, we have been revising laws and have been selective in sending our workers abroad," a ministry official, Tatang Budie Utama Razak, told AFP on Friday.

dca/lto