The traveler Jakub Skrzypski has been imprisoned in Indonesia for three years. The region where he is held in custody is getting more and more anxious, which further worsens his situation. The Pole was recognized as a political prisoner by organizations defending human rights. The Polish Press Agency described the conditions under which he is held.
Poor-quality food, irregular cell leaving, rare visits and a shaky situation in a troubled region – this is the everyday life of a 42-year-old tourist from Olsztyn, who was sentenced by an Indonesian court to 7 years in prison for allegedly collaborating with separatists in the West Papua region.
Jakub Skrzypski, who has been imprisoned in eastern Indonesia for nearly three years, received such a sentence for meeting with local independence activists. International human rights organizations and the European Parliament recognized the Pole as a political prisoner and a victim of a show trial, calling for his release.
Skrzypski has been in detention in Wamena, an inaccessible mountain town where he has been detained by the police, since November 2018 – for reasons that the Indonesian authorities have not given.
A cell of 14 square meters
According to the information provided by the PAP, the convict’s lawyer and people visiting the police detention center, the traveler is in a five-person cell with an area of approximately 14 square meters, with a separate bathroom. Others are also held temporarily in the same room: it happened that up to eight detainees were held.
More inmates have been detained since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This is the result of restrictions in a nearby prison that stopped admitting people in pre-trial detention. Epidemic restrictions have also led to a reduction in the number of visits from outside, and prisoners who are only occasionally taken out onto the lawn in front of the building lack regular walks.
The accounts of people who have had contact with the Polish prisoner in recent months show that he is emotionally unstable and malnourished. The food twice a day delivered to his cell from the prison kitchen is of very poor quality – mostly rice and vegetables and usually lacking protein sources. Those familiar with the realities of life in the Indonesian penitentiary system explain that detainees and prisoners supplement their diets with food from their families and friends, or pay guards for purchases.
The problem for the defenders of the Pole is the inaccessibility of Wamena, to which until recently there was no open road, and transport takes place mainly by air. The entire region is located approximately 4,000 kilometers from the capital city of Jakarta, which makes the consul’s visits difficult. Nevertheless, as Jakub Skrzypski’s lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, points out in an interview with PAP, the convicted tourist faces better conditions there than in large prisons, where overcrowding, corruption and violence are often prevalent.
“Wamena is remote and inaccessible, but the climate is tolerable, mountainous, and Jacob has a good relationship with the guards.” We are no longer applying for a transfer of my client because he does not wish to do so, says Latifah. Earlier, Polish diplomats in Jakarta suggested transferring the traveler to Bandung in Java.
Request for pardon
Appeals to improve the conditions of serving a sentence by a Polish citizen have so far had little effect. The application for pardon of a Polish citizen, submitted at the end of April, to President Joko Widodo, which was submitted at the end of April, is pending, but there is no certainty that the decision will be positive. Meanwhile, ensuring the safety of the Pole remains a challenge.
In West Papua, an armed uprising has been going on for decades with varying intensity. The Indonesian military and police have clashed with local militants in recent weeks, and the situation in the area remains unpredictable.
In October 2019, this was indicated by the European Parliament, expressing in the adopted resolution its fear for the life of the imprisoned Pole. Two months earlier, there had been mass independence protests in the region. Anti-government riots broke out in Wamena and other places, and fights with partisans broke out in the mountains. Protesters set fire to a prison in the city of Sorong, from which more than 250 inmates had escaped, several thousand civilians had to be evacuated from their homes. Ultimately, security forces brutally suppressed demonstrations, killing nearly sixty people, the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) reported.
Main photo source: Associated Press / East News