Raising a Regional Flag “Embarrassed the People of Indonesia in the Eyes of the World”

Johan Teterissa

Johan Teterissa in his cell at the Waiheru detention centre. (Photo Al Jazeera English)

Johan Teterissa is that forgotten prisoner in a dark cell who needs the Amnesty candle.  The Indonesian elementary school teacher was recently transferred to Batu Prison on Nusakambangan Island in Indonesia, which is even further away from family and friends in Maluku.

His family couldn’t see the cuts bleeding from being beaten with electric cables upon his arrival at Batu Prison.

In June 2012 Amnesty International received credible information that he and other prisoners at Madiun Prison did not have adequate access to clean drinking water. The prison authorities were also limiting the amount of water available to Johan and other prisoners for bathing.

What was his crime?  Johan is serving a 15-year sentence for peacefully unfurling the banned regional flag, the “Benang Raja,” at the end of a dance performed for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a ceremony in Ambon, Maluku. The police escorted twenty-two activists, including Johan, off the field. Once out of sight of the president, the police beat the activists, forced them to crawl on their stomachs over hot asphalt, and forced billiard balls into their mouths.  Johan has never received adequate medical care for his injuries. Prison authorities turned away an independent doctor who tried to see him in July 2010.