Jan 22, 2021 Last Updated 1:30 AM, Jan 22, 2021

Human Rights

Christmas in a prison camp

The following excerpts are taken from a diary of letters kept by an Australian woman who lived in Java, Kalimantan and Bali for nine years. In this letter, written in January 1978, the author describes her visit to a detention camp for women political prisoners Just after Christmas 1977. The prisoners have since been released.

The letter begins with a description of the long drive from Semarang west to Pelantungan where the camp was located up in the mountains. The visit was arranged by a Dutch pastor, 'Co'. Fenton-Huie was accompanied by the pastor's wife, Phia, and a Dutch nursing sister, Truus. After abandoning their car which could not travel the last stretch of the rough rocky road, the women had to walk the final kilometres to the camp, which also held 40 delinquent boys. The visitors shared a simple Indonesian meal in the house of one of the guards before entering 'a large barracks-type hall' to witness the camp's Christmas concert.

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