A New Zealander and father-of-three has died in an Indonesian prison after contracting Covid-19.
Gregory Harland-White, 58, died on August 2 inBalikpapan Prison on the Indonesian island of Borneo, his sister Ellen James confirmed.
Harland-White was jailed for 11 years in April 2017 after being found with 29.7 grams of crystal methamphetamine the previous year.
James said she knew her brother, who had emphysema, was unlikely to ever leave the prison, despite being sentenced to only 11 years.
READ MORE:* Covid-19: Death rates soar in Southeast Asia as virus wave spreads* Kiwi jailed for meth in Borneo protests with hunger strike over Indonesia’s ‘two-faced’ corrupt justice system
He had initially contacted me last year about Covid-19, and he was really frightened. But then he started to turn by saying that Covid-19 wasn’t real, and it was all a conspiracy. He wasn’t a well, man at all.
James said Harland-White had a difficult life which led to him making some not so great decisions leading eventually to his demise.
She said his emphysema, a condition that involves damage to the walls of the air sacs of the lung, had progressively worsened, meaning he had to rely on oxygen tanks when they were available.
Covid-19 was the last straw for his body, he died alone, she said.
Greg Harland-White and his sister, Ellen James.
On the day he died, a police officer arrived at James Gisborne home to inform her of the news. It was really sad. It was very sad.
James said Harland-White spent time in boys homes growing up, before getting into a life of drugs that ruined his life.
On Tuesday, the Government limited all travel from Indonesia, deeming it a very high risk country, along with Fiji.
Indonesia has had more than 3.7 million reported cases of the virus, and 112,198 deaths.
Initially, James was told there were certain protocols in place which meant Harland-White would likely be buried in a mass grave in Indonesia.
That was actually really quite devastating, because that’s not how we do things here in New Zealand. So we’re really lucky that when we said no, we actually want him to be cremated so he can be returned back here to New Zealand, thankfully the Indonesian government allowed that, she said.
As Covid-19 deaths surge in Indonesia, social workers are reporting an increase in the number of children left orphaned.
James said his ashes would be spread in Taranaki, so we could reconnect with his whakapapa. To give him some peace, the peace that he wasn’t able to find in this life, she said.
In 2018, Harland-White announced he would go on a hunger strike for a month while in prison in order to highlight corruption in the Indonesias justice system.
He took aim at President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s unadulterated two-faced regime where ordinary people were jailed and sometimes executed for drug use, trafficking or possession while government officials, police, politicians and the rich were offered rehabilitation.
He wanted to shed light on the injustices this system imposes on the poorest of Indonesia’s people. I am doing this for them as I truly have no family here who can be intimidated these are the facts of my protest, he said.
James has launched a Givealittle page to cover the $5500 cost of cremating Harland-White and bring him to New Zealand.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said its embassy in Jakarta had been providing consular assistance to Harland-White for some time, prior to his death.
Consular assistance is now being provided to his family, she said.