A group of prisoners granted early release in the Indonesian province of Gorontalo last week celebrated their freedom by making a TikTok video dancing to music from Spongebob Squarepants, the Asian outlet Coconuts reported on Tuesday.
As part of a government measure to release 30,000 prisoners to prevent a surge in cases of the Chinese coronavirus across their facilities, 66 prisoners at Class II Penitentiary in Gorontalo city were last week granted early parole.
According to regulation imposed by the country’s Law and Human Rights Ministry last month, adult prisoners who have served over two-thirds of their sentences are now eligible for parole.
In a video filmed by prison correction officers and uploaded to TikTok, inmates danced their way out of the prison to the tune of Spongebob Squarepants. Prison warden Ignatius Gunaidi revealed that the inmates requested the video be taken so they could share their happiness.
“We gladly accommodated their request,” Ignatius was quoted as saying by local media, adding that they were greeted by their families upon their exit.
Indonesian prisons have long had a major problem with overcrowding. Data from the Indonesian Justice Ministry found that in 2019, the official capacity of all the country’s prisons was 123,025 but that they are holding approximately double the number of inmates.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Indonesia had recorded 2,738 of the coronavirus and 221 fatalities, the highest number in Southeast Asia. At least 204 people have made a full recovery. However, there are suspicions about the veracity of such figures, with the governor of Jakarta claiming last week that in the capital alone, there had been 300 suspected and confirmed deaths since the beginning of March.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has repeatedly refused to quarantine Jakarta and other parts of the country, arguing that it would not suit Indonesian society, despite calls from local authorities to do so. Last week, The Jakarta Post published an editorial, citing health officials, warning that up to a million people could die across the country should such measures not be imposed.
Last month, the Indonesian government also pleaded with the country’s majority Muslim population to stop holding mass gatherings, after authorities successfully prevented a planned gathering of almost 9,000 pilgrims from taking place.