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Jakarta Post

Ahok’s fiercest critics face hate speech charges

  • Agnes Anya and Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 25, 2016   /  07:48 am
Ahok’s fiercest critics face hate speech charges All ready -- Buni Yani (center in stripe shirt), Buni Yani, who posted the video footage containing alleged blasphemous remarks made by Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, gets prepared to attend his interrogation at the Jakarta Police on Nov. 23. (JP/Callistasia Anggun Wijaya)

As the National Police intensify their probe into blasphemy allegations made against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a number of people who were at the forefront in demanding that he be prosecuted are now also facing legal charges.

On Wednesday night, the police charged Buni Yani with incitement for posting an incomplete transcription of Ahok’s controversial citation of a Quranic verse in Thousand Islands regency in September, the video of which went viral and led to the demand for Ahok’s prosecution.

In the video, which was uploaded on Buni’s Facebook page, Ahok said: “Don’t believe those people. It is possible that deep in [your] heart you cannot vote for me. [You are] deceived [by other people] using AlMaidah 51,”

In his caption for the video, Buni quoted Ahok as saying “[you are] deceived by Al-Maidah 51.” He has admitted that he inadvertently omitted the missing words.

His Facebook post, in which he misquoted Ahok, received a lot of responses and was largely responsible for triggering public outrage against the governor.

The police have charged Buni Yani under Article 28 of the notorious 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law on hate speech, which carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment.

On Thursday, the police said it would not detain Buni, who they said had been cooperative during the investigation, but added that he was barred from traveling abroad. The police made the same decision with Ahok.

The police have confiscated Buni’s cellphone and taken over the access to his two email accounts and his Facebook account.

Based on the suspect’s statements to police, he posted the video and the caption because he wanted to discuss Ahok’s remarks with his Facebook friends, Awi said.

“The quotation [in the caption] was taken from the video but he edited it with some words [put] in brackets,” Awi said.

“The problem lies in the caption, not the video. Those [bracketed] words are not found in the video [...] and spread information likely to cause hostility and hatred.”

Awi said the police would complete the investigation into Buni’s case within 60 days.

Buni’s lawyer Aldwin Rahadian said his client did not edit Ahok’s remarks and he was not the first to upload a video of Ahok’s speech in Thousand Islands.

Also on Thursday, the police began their investigation into a defamation case involving musician Ahmad Dhani, who is accused of insulting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo when he took part in the massive anti-Ahok rally on Nov. 4.

Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab and artist Ratna Sarumpaet have been summoned by the police as witnesses in the case.

Dhani, Ratna and Rizieq are among the fiercest critics of Ahok.

Ratna said the police had also summoned National Mandate Party (PAN) supervisory board head Amien Rais, Muslim cleric Bachtiar Nasir, lawyer Eggi Sudjana, Dhani’s wife Mulan Jameela and the musician himself on Thursday.

“We’ve decided not to answer the summons because the summons letter is unclear,” Ratna said by telephone on Thursday, claiming that the letter did not properly identify the addressee.

Meanwhile, Eggi, who arrived at the police office at 10:30 a.m., said he believed Jokowi should have personally reported Dhani for defamation if he felt insulted, as stipulated in Article 207 of the Criminal Code on insulting leaders or institutions.

In this case, he said, the police had followed up on a report from a resident identified as Riano Osha.

“In a defamation case, the person who feels insulted is the person who should report it to the police. Just like president SBY, who himself reported Zaenal Maarif to the Jakarta Police,” Eggi said, referring to a police report made by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2007.


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