Indonesia: Authorities must hold inquiry into death of Maluku political activist

The Indonesian government must immediately initiate an independent, effective and impartial inquiry into allegations that a peaceful political activist was repeatedly denied access to adequate medical care while in prison, which may have contributed to his death earlier today.

Yusuf Sapakoly was arrested on 29 June 2007 for assisting a group of peaceful political activists in Maluku province who unfurled the “Benang Raja” flag, a symbol of South Maluku independence, while performing a traditional “Cakalele” dance in front of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The police then reportedly tortured him in detention. He was subsequently charged with “rebellion” under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesia Criminal Code and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in Nania prison, Ambon. 

According to local sources, Yusuf Sapakoly, aged 52 and a father of four, was denied medical treatment by the prison authorities for kidney failure which required dialysis. He had also made complaints that he did not receive adequate treatment for rib injuries he had received during his detention.

On 7 September 2010, the prison authorities released him into the care of his family.

Amnesty International believes that such denial of urgently-needed medical care amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The treatment of Yusuf Sapakoly appears to violate Indonesia’s obligations under international human rights law as well as in Indonesian law.

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