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Face mask refusers in Indonesia forced to dig coronavirus victims’ graves



Indonesia has turned to the latest shocking tactic against citizens refusing to wear face masks in public spaces by ordering them to dig the graves of Covid-19 victims.

According to the Jakarta Post, authorities in Cerme province, East Java, forced eight people to dig graves in a public cemetery in the local village of Ngabetan as punishment for violating mask rules.

There are only three gravediggers available at the moment, so I thought I could bring these people to work with them, said a local leader named Suyono.

Hopefully this can create a hurdle. He added that the men would be kept away from actual burials. Cerme residents currently face fines and community service as authorities struggle to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases.

The province reflects much of Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation in the world, which is experiencing an increase in infections in an endless first wave of the virus.

So far, the country has more than 225,000 cases and 8,965 deaths, although current figures are believed to be much higher than official statistics.

Authorities have already tried to display empty coffins at busy intersections in the capital, Jakarta, as a reminder of the dangers of the highly contagious virus.

The coffins, next to a mannequin in a hazmat protective suit, are painted with the words Covid-19 victim in red, to carry home the message that people should take the necessary precautions.

Jakarta has become an epicenter of the virus, with hospital reports overloaded with patients. As of Friday, 109 doctors had died from Covid-19, according to the Indonesian Medical Association, and many health workers have warned that the public is not taking the virus seriously enough.

Undertakers have also spoken of exhaustion in caring for the increasing number of bodies.

The government has been widely criticized for its slow handling of the pandemic since it first hit the country earlier this year, resulting in Indonesia becoming one of the hardest hit countries in Southeast Asia, on a par with the Philippines.

On Monday, President Joko Widodo said the government had prepared a host of new quarantine centers, including three-star hotels, to allow asymptomatic patients to self-isolate themselves from their homes.

The capital has been forced to return to a partial blockade after trying to reopen businesses, restaurants and offices.

This is an emergency, more so than at the beginning of the pandemic, said Anies Basweden, the governor of Jakarta, last week.

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