The statement from Ventosilla’s family “raises very serious questions that deserve clear and precise answers,” Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf said. “Harvard Kennedy School supports the family’s call for an immediate and thorough investigation and for the public release of all relevant information, and the school stands with all of Rodrigo’s friends and colleagues and with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Ventosilla’s family has asked the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to push for an investigation into the conduct of the Indonesian authorities. But in a statement issued this week, the ministry appeared to agree with Indonesian officials’ account of events.
In a news release on August 22, the State Department denied that the actions of the Indonesian authorities amounted to discrimination and anti-trans violence. The ministry said the arrest occurred because customs officials found pills with a medical prescription and “items containing traces of cannabis, as well as various products made with said substance.”
“As is publicly known, Indonesia maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding the possession of drugs and their derivative products for which one of the detained nationals would have committed a serious crime under the country’s strict laws,” the ministry said.
It also said the Peruvian consulate was in contact with local authorities throughout to ensure they worked within local law and respected Ventosilla and Marallano’s rights.
Gianna Camacho, a spokesperson for Ventosilla’s family, told BuzzFeed News they reject the ministry’s statement, calling it an “offense against the families” and “biased” against Sebastian and the families’ accounts.
“We demand a process that determines who is responsible for the torture, extortion and violation of human rights that Sebastián suffered and that led to Rodrigo’s death,” they said.
Marallano has since returned to Lima, the spokesman said. Ventosilla’s body is expected to arrive on August 31.
The deterioration of LGBTQ rights in Indonesia has alarmed activists and human rights organizations. There is no law that expressly prohibits same-sex relationships, and trans people can change their gender on official documents after sex reassignment surgery. But authorities have relied on other laws to crack down on LGBTQ people in the country. Reports of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Indonesia is lushand local activists have said so could get worse.
Indonesia also has some of the strictest drug laws in the world. Travelers from other countries have been extradited Death penalty for previous drug offences. Cannabis is considered a Category 1 drug and possession can result in years in prison and large fines.
Most prescription drugs are allowed in Indonesia, although authorities strongly recommend bringing a doctor’s note and the original prescription along with it. International travelers have also been detained in Indonesia for carrying medicine without a prescription.