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Ex-Prisoner Takes to Twitter to Expose Extortion, Drugs in Indonesian Prison

July 14, 2020, 05.33 PM

JAKARTA, – A recently released inmate of a prison in Central Jakarta has introduced Indonesia's Twitter-verse to a totally new kind of micro-blogging content: stories of life behind bars peppered with details of extortion, drug trafficking, and sharing two toilets with over 400 others.

Indonesian human rights activist Surya Anta Ginting and five other Papuan political activists were found guilty for committing acts of treason following a rally for the liberation of Papua in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta in August 2019. The other activists are Ariana Eleopere, Dano Anes Tabuni, Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait, and Issay Wenda.

Surya served his nine-month sentence in the Salemba Penitentiary in Central Jakarta. He was released from prison in May 2020 and began posting stories via his Twitter account @SuryaAnta on Sunday, July 12.

On his first day in prison, he said, an inmate extorted money from him and his friend for one million rupiahs ($70) and three million rupiahs ($207), respectively.

"Finally, 500,000 rupiahs ($34.5) were extorted from each of us five when they learned we were activists and not sons of influential people," Surya wrote in his Twitter account.

Also read: Poor Public Compliance with Health Protocols Fuels Jakarta’s High Covid-19 Cases

Crowded prison

Surya said he and his four colleagues were placed with about 420 other prisoners in a hall meant for new inmates for a month. He uploaded a photo that showed prisoners sleeping in cramped conditions in a hall.

"Prisoners sleep like preserved fish laid out in a grid pattern. We had to sleep on our side," Surya said.

The facilities were inadequate as the entire population of the hall had to share only two toilets and a single television unit. The prisoners collected water to quench their thirst.

"There is only one TV set in the room [for the new inmates]. If anyone dares to touch the dial, people will immediately make noise. These plastic bottles are meant to hold water for drinking. But when we drink the water, it feels sticky on our throat. It causes sore throat," Surya tweeted.

He added that fights between inmates in the holding room were common, and they were often triggered by the inane and unnecessary.

“Due to overcrowding, prisoners fought over sweet potatoes, someone wearing another person's sandals, spilled coffee, and stolen side dish,” he wrote.

Also read: Refugees in Indonesia Say UNHCR Jakarta Office Reneging on Food Aid Promise

The pharmacy


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