Rights activist arrested under draconian IET law for ‘insulting’ the TNI

Tempo -- March 7, 2019
Robertus Robet speaking at Kamisan -- February 28, 2019 (Istimewa)
Robertus Robet speaking at Kamisan -- February 28, 2019 (Istimewa)

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta -- Activists who are part of Robertus Robet’s legal support team are urging National Police Chief (Kapolri) Tito Karnavian to release the Jakarta State University (UNJ) lecture who was arrested by police on Thursday March 7.

It is suspected that Robet was arrested because he criticised the Indonesian military (TNI) during a Kamisan (Thursday) action on February 28 in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

“So [we are] urging the Kapolri to release Robertus Robet unconditionally”, wrote one of Robet’s legal support team members Yati Andriyani -- who is also the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) -- in a press release.

A video of Robet speaking at a Kamisan action last week attracted controversy and criticism on social media with Robet being accused of criticising and insulting the TNI.

According to Andriyani, what was conveyed by Robet at the Kamisan action was a form of free speech and a right which cannot be silenced. Yet, earlier today Robet was arrested at his home and taken the National Police headquarters (Mabes Polri).

“Robet has been accused of violating the UU ITE [Electronic Transaction and Information Law] in relation to the peaceful Kamisan action a week ago”, she said.

Robet has confirmed his arrest. “[Earlier] this evening I was taken to Trunojoyo (Mabes Polri). [I was] arrested immediately. The police arrived 10 minutes later”, said Robet in an SMS message early on Thursday morning.

Earlier, Robet had already clarified the video of him speaking at the Kamisan action which had gone viral on social media. According to Robet, what he said in the video was not intended to criticise or insult the TNI.

“The song that I sung was intended as a criticism of ABRI [an abbreviation for Indonesian Armed Forces during the Suharto era] in the past, not against the TNI now. Moreover it was not intended to insult the TNI as a profession, organisation or institution”, said Robet when contacted by Tempo on March 6.

Robet explained that as a lecturer, he fully understands the reforms which have been carried out by the TNI. According to Robet, the TNI has become an institution that is more progressive that others in relation to reformasi -- the political reform process that began in 1998.

“On many issues I have actually praised and expressed appreciation for the TNI’s reform efforts”, he said.

Robet admitted that he did indeed sing a song at last week’s Kamisan action. The song, he said, was one which was popular with the student movement in 1998.

Robet said that he explained the meaning of the song shortly before the action but it appears as if the explanation was edited out of the video circulating on social media. “Yet it was clearly explained in my introduction to the speech, but unfortunately it was not included in the video recording”, he said.

Tempo has attempted to contact the National Police’s public information bureau Chief Brigadier General Dedi Rasetyo to confirm Robet’s arrest. However there has been no reply to the SMS sent by Tempo.

According to Tempo’s observations the atmosphere at the Mabes Polri on Jl. Trunojoyo in South Jakarta appeared quiet with only one officer on guard at the security post in front of the building.


According to a report by Detik.com, these are the lyrics of the song which uses the tune of a TNI marching song that was sung by Robet at the Kamisan action:

Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia
Tidak berguna
Bubarkan saja
Diganti Menwa
Kalau perlu diganti Pramuka

Indonesian Armed Forces
Disband it
Replace it with the Student University Paramilitary Regiment
If necessary replace it with the Indonesian Scout Movement

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Aktivis Minta Kapolri Bebaskan Robertus Robet yang Diduga Diciduk”.]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1182691/aktivis-minta-kapolri-bebaskan-robertus-robet-yang-diduga-diciduk