Activists that have fallen foul of the law for criticising Jokowi government

CNN Indonesia – August 3, 2023
Rally in front of Central Jakarta District Court demanding release of the Jakarta 6 – December 20, 2019 (Sejuk)

Jakarta – A number of activists have had to have dealings with the police or been ensnared by the law after criticising the government. Most recently, academic Rocky Gerung was reported to the police over his statement referring to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as a stupid bastard (bajingan tolol).

Gerung is now besieged by a number of police reports because his statement was seen as an insult against Widodo.

The Metro Jaya Regional Police Special Crimes Detective Directorate (Ditreskrimsus) is known to have received three separate reports against Gerung.

The first was submitted by the United Indonesia Volunteers on July 31. The second was made by ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Ferdinand Hutahaean on August 1. The third was submitted by the PDI-P affiliated Volunteers for Democratic Struggle (Repdem) National Leadership Board on August 2.

In addition to this, the National Police Criminal Investigations Directorate (Bareskrim Polri) has also received a report submitted by the PDI-P Central Leadership Board Legal Aid and People's Advocacy Body (BBHAR) on August 2.

A wave of protesters calling themselves Jokowi volunteers have also held demonstrations at the Bekasi Municipal Police Headquarters and the Metro Jaya Regional Police Headquarters demanding that Gerung be arrested immediately.

The following is a list of activists who have fallen foul of the law or been prosecuted after criticising the Widodo government.

1. Haris and Fatia

In September 2021, human rights activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti were reported to the police for alleged defamation by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

The complaint was directed at a statement by Maulidiyanti in a video uploaded on Azhar's YouTube channel on August 20, 2022. The report alleged that the pair accused Pandjaitan of having an economic conflict of interest in a polemic over mining businesses in Papua.

The Metro Jaya Special Crimes Detective Directorate then declared Azhar and Maulidiyanti as suspects for tarnishing Pandjaitan's good name. The case is currently being heard in the East Jakarta District Court.

2. Rafael Todowera

The chairperson of the West Manggarai Tourism Rescue Society Forum (FORMAPP), Rafael Todowera, was arrested by police during a mass action and strike opposing a ticket price hike for the Komodo Island and Pendar Labuan Bajo Island tourist sites in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) on August 1, 2022.

Todowera was arrested along with two others – Louis and Afandi Wijaya.

West Manggarai District Police Chief Assistant Superintendant Felli Hermanto said that the arrests were made because they held the action at the site of a national vital object, namely the Komodo Airport, disrupting activities there.

Todowera was declared a suspect and indicted under Article 14 of Law Number 1/1946 on Criminal Law Regulations, which is subject to a 10 year prison sentence.

In addition to this, he was also indicted under Article 336 Paragraph (1) and Paragraph (2) of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on crimes that cause a public danger to the security of people or objects, which carries a five year prison sentence.

3. Ravio Patra

Public policy researcher and legislative advocacy activist Ravio Patra was arrested by police on April 22, 2020. The arrest was described as being related to a series of messages sent from a WhatsApp number belonging to Patra.

Prior to this, Patra himself had announced to his colleagues – including through his Twitter account – that he suspected his WhatsApp account had been hacked and was no longer accessible.

A member of the Coalition Against Criminalisation and Case Fabrication and Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), Damar Juniarto, said that before being arrested Patra had often criticised the government. Because of this therefore, there were suspicions that this was an effort to criminalise Patra.

Patra later submitted a pre-trial suit with the South Jakarta District Court over his arrest by the Metro Jaya police. The panel of judges at the court however rejected the suit.

4. Jumhur-Syhahganda

Save Indonesia Action Coalition (KAMI) activist Jumhur Hidayat was arrested following a wave of protest actions against the Omnibus Law on Job Creation in October 2020.

He was declared a suspect for allegedly spreading fake news and inciting the protests against the law that ended in chaos.

A panel of judges at the South Jakarta District Court sentenced Hidayat to 10 years in prison. The judges said that Hidayat had been legally and convincingly proven to have committed a crime by spreading news that was incomplete about the Jobs Law.

Meanwhile in the same case, another KAMI activist, Syahganda Nainggolan, was released from the National Police Criminal Investigations Directorate detention centre on Friday August 13, 2021, after serving 10 months in jail.

A total of eight KAMI activists were arrested on October 12-12, 2020, on charges of incitement causing a protest action to end in chaos.

5. Papua Activist Surya Anta

Papua activist Surya Anta along with five others (known as the Jakarta 6) were declared suspects on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) in August 2019. The five others were Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait, Isay Wenda, Anes Tabuni and Arina Elopere.

The panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court handed down a nine month prison term for Anta. According to the judges, he was proven to have violated Article 106 in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the 1st KUHP on makar.

Anta along with the other five were deemed to have committed makar after holding a demonstration in front of the State Palace and the Indonesian Army Headquarters on August 28.

The charges of makar against the six was because during the action they flew the Morning Star flag, which is indeed a symbol of Papuan independence.

6. Pusaka activist Padang Sudarto

Inter-Communal Study Centre (Pusaka) activist Sudarto was picked up by police on January 7, 2020, at around 1.30 pm at the Pusaka Foundation office in Padang. The arrest was related to Suharto's fierce response to a ban on celebrating Christmas in West Sumatra.

Sudarto was declared a suspect and indicted under Article 45A Paragraph (2) in conjunction with Article 28 Article (2) of Law Number 19/2016 on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE Law) and or Article 14 Paragraph (1) and (2) and Article 15 of Law Number 1/1946 on Criminal Law Regulations.

Sudarto is an activist who has campaigned for freedom of religion and belief in West Sumatra. When a ban on celebrating Christmas in the regencies of Dharmasraya and Sijunjung became public, he was one of the people most active in assisting the victims.

On December 17, 2019, Sudarto reported the Dharmasraya and Sijunjung regency governments to the Ombudsman for alleged maladministration over the ban on celebrating Christmas.

7. Dandhy Laksono

Journalist and founder of the Watchdoc production house, Dandhy Dwi Laksono, was arrested by the Metro Jaya police on the evening of Thursday September 26, 2019.

Laksono was indicted under the ITE Law and Law Number 1/1946. After being questioned for three hours, he was allowed to return home, but with the status of a suspect for spreading hatred related to Papua.

8. Ananda Badudu

Several hours after Laksono's arrest, musician and human rights activist Ananda Badudu was arrested by the Metro Jaya police early in the morning of September 27, 2019.

Badudu was picked up in relation to collecting funds for a student protest at the House of Representatives (DPR) through his website "We Can" (Kita Bisa).

He was questioned as a witness over the transfer of 10 million rupiah, which was alleged to be for the student demonstration, but in the end was released.

9. Greenpeace activists

Five activists were arrested by the Menteng Metro Sector Police in Central Jakarta for putting up a banner on the Welcome Statue at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Wednesday October 23, 2019.

The banner, which contained a call to save the environment, belonged to the environmental organisation Greenpeace.

Metro Menteng Sectoral Police Chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Dedy Supriadi said that the five activists were arrested and taken in for further questioning in relation to their eight hour action.

In addition to the action at the Welcome Statue, Greenpeace also put up a banner at the Dirgantara Statue in Pancoran, South Jakarta. The action was to remind President Widodo's cabinet to stop the use of dirty energy.

10. KNPB Chairperson Agus Kossay

West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairperson Agus Kossat was arrested by police in the Hawai area of Sentani, Papua, on Tuesday September 17, 2019. Police said that the Papua independence activist was arrested in relation to the theft of a motorbike (curanmor).

KNPB International Spokesperson Victor Yeimo said that Kossay had indeed led a demonstration in response to racism suffered by Papua students in East Java.

He said that although Kossay was involved in an action in Jayapura on August 19, he was not involved in the next action on August 29, or in the subsequent riots that took place in Jayapura.

Yeimo said that prior to Kossay's arrest, police had already arrested scores of KNPB activists from different regions in Papua such as Timika, Nabire, Paniai and Jayapura.

The panel of judges at the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan later handed down a sentence of 11 months in prison for Kossay. He was deemed to have committed an act of makar during the demonstrations that were held in Papua in August 2019.

11. Robertus Robet

Human rights activist and academic at the Jakarta State University (UNJ) Robertus Robet was arrested by officers from the National Police Headquarters on Wednesday March 6, 2019.

Robert was declared a suspect for allegedly insulting the authorities or public institutions in Indonesia during a speech he made at a Kamisan (Thursday) action earlier in the year on February 28.

Robet confessed to giving a speech at the Kamisan action in which he sung a protest song that was seen as critical of the TNI (Indonesian military).

He was alleged to have violated Article 45A Paragraph (2) in conjunction with Article 28 Paragraph (2) of the ITE Law and Article 207 of the KUHP. (lna/DAL)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Daftar Aktivis Berurusan Polisi Buntut Kritik Pemerintahan Jokowi".]