Friday, March 08, 2019

No freedom of speech in Indonesia

Robertus Robet is an Indonesian human rights activist. On wednesday he was arrested and faces two years in prison for "hate speech" for singing a protest song:

Robet was arrested in relation to a song delivered at an event called Kamisan, a weekly human rights demonstration held in front of the state palace in Jakarta every Thursday.

The national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said on Thursday that Robet is being investigated for hate speech and faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

At the event on 28 February, Robet sang a song that was popular among student protestors in 1998, when massive demonstrations led to the fall of authoritarian dictator Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for more than three decades.

Robet’s song was meant as a criticism of the government’s recent plan to move unemployed military generals into civil institutions to address an institutional surplus.

His prosecution proves his point: that Indonesia is returning to an authoritarian state where people are not free to say what they think or criticise the government. And if that happens, countries like New Zealand should be reconsidering our diplomatic relations. We should not be friends with a dictatorship.