I want to see the word laogai in every dictionary in every language in the world. I want to see the laogai ended. Before 1974, the word 'gulag' did not appear in any dictionary. Today, this single word conveys the meaning of Soviet political violence and its labour camp system. 'Laogai' also deserves a place in our dictionaries.
-- Harry Wu
the laogai are Chinese labour camps.
Kerobokan prison has been the subject of a recent book by Kathryn Bonella titled 'Hotel K'. The prison has been described and characterized as a veritable hellhole that people battle to survive in. However, as Bonella notes in her book, the guards are corrupt and life's little luxuries are always available for the right price.
Kerobokan houses Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine.
Yet, what inspired this post, aside from the above quote, was that I read recently that Kerobokan makes Guantanamo Bay look like a five star resort. Now, I have not been to Cuba so I cannot say with authority however it strikes me as unlikely that favours and better conditions are for sale there.
The reality of Kerobokan is that prisoners with resources can purchase a cell 'upgrade' and enjoy some of the finer things of prison life such as delivered food and freedom to roam.
Prison is not supposed to be summer camp. You are supposed to be punished for crimes that you have committed. I am sure that Kerobokan is not a nice place, and I am sure that I am glad I am not inside. However, to compare it to places like Guantanamo Bay or to suggest it is the worst prison in Asia or the world undermines the credibility of those making such comments. It also serves to shine light on the ways in which prisoners of means can play the system and garner more favourable conditions during they forced stay.
Is Kerobokan the worst prison in Indonesia? No. Is Kerobokan the worst prison in Asia? No. Is Kerobkan the worst prison in the world? No. Is it a fun place to be? No!
I wonder if Schapelle has benefited from the 'corruption' of Kerobokan and upgraded her cell or enjoyed any other benefits that money can buy?