Sukatno Dies after 30 Years in Prison

TAPOL has just been informed that Sukatno, a political prisoner who has been in prison for nearly thirty years died today in Cikini Hospital, Jakarta. He was 67 years old.

Here again is the appalling tragedy of a man who was literally allowed to rot in prison.

Sukatno was the General Secretary of the PKI's youth organisation, Pemuda Rakyat. He escaped the mass killings and arrests that followed Suharto's seizure of power in 1965. Eventually he was arrested in July 1968 when the army swooped on a base which communists and others had established in South Blitar, East Java. A number of people were killed in the raid. Sukatno was put on trial, found guilty of 'involvement in the events of 1965' and sentenced to death.

He adamantly refused to seek clemency from Suharto. In the past few years his health deteriorated sharply but Suharto turned a deaf ear to pleas for his release on humanitarian grounds.

Sukatno was a member of Parliament until 1965 when Suharto summarily dismissed all members of the PKI from the legislature. The Inter-Parliamentary Union took up his case and made numerous appeals on his behalf to Suharto, the Indonesian Parliament and the Indonesian Government, but to no avail. His case was considered at every annual meeting of the IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

The most recent information about his deplorable state of health came in an interview in January this year of East Timorese resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, who knew him in Cipinang Prison. Asked about the health of other prisoners in Cipinang, Xanana said: 'I think everyone should think seriously about Sukatno's health. He has been in prison for thirty years and he is very senile. He is now quite oblivious of everything. He is totally incontinent. He should be allowed to return to the fold of his family or placed somewhere where relatives can take care of him.'

Thu May 8 1997

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