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International – Amnesty condemns Indonesia

July 2017

Amnesty International has slammed the decision by Indonesian authorities to imprison the governor of Jakarta.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as ‘Ahok’, was accused of blasphemy. The prosecutor demanded the judges sentence Ahok for one year’s imprisonment for ‘insulting or making hostility’ towards a certain group in public, under Article 156 of the Criminal Code, and dropped the blasphemy charges.

However, the North Jakarta District Court convicted Ahok of blasphemy under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment. Ahok is now imprisoned at the Cipinang Detention Facility.

Champa Patel, Amnesty’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the decision will tarnish Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance. He said: ‘This verdict demonstrates the inherent injustice of Indonesia’s blasphemy law, which should be repealed immediately.

‘Despite protests of his innocence and evidence that his words were manipulated for political purposes, he has been sentenced to two years in jail. The verdict will tarnish Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant nation’.

Amnesty International has called on the Indonesian authorities to repeal blasphemy laws, including Articles 156 and 156(a) of the Criminal Code, that have been used to prosecute and imprison people.

According to Amnesty, individuals in Indonesia may be imprisoned for defamation of religion for as long as five years, because they have peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression or to freedom of thought, conscience or religion, which are protected under international human rights law.