The human rights organisation Amnesty International has launched an Urgent Action in relation to the prosecution of Agustinus Yolemal. Dozens of police officers unlawfully arrested the Papuan peaceful pro-independence activist, his wife, his 6-year-old son and his sister-in-law in their house in Timika, Mimika Regency on 23 August 2018. Agustinus Yolemal was taken into custody and charged with Article 45A(2), referring to “disseminating hostility against the state ideology” under the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE Law), which carries a maximum penalty of six years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to one billion rupiah (around US$66,700) if he is found guilty.
PAPUAN ACTIVIST CHARGED FOR POSTING FB VIDEO
A peaceful pro-independence Papuan activist, Agustinus Yolemal, was detained and charged for posting a video on Facebook. He was charged with “disseminating hostility against the state ideology” under the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction. If convicted, he would face a penalty of up to six years imprisonment. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released.
On the evening of 23 August, Agustinus Yolemal, a Papuan pro-independence activist, was in his house in Timika, Mimika District, Papua Province with his wife, his 6-year-old son and his sister-in-law, where dozens of police personnel arrested them without showing an arrest warrant. The police brought all four people to a local police station for interrogation. The police also interrogated the 6-year old boy. After hours of interrogation, the police released three of them, while keeping Agustinus detained. The police named Agustinus as a suspect for disseminating a video containing “hostile messages against Indonesia’s state ideology.” In the video that Agustinus posted on his Facebook page a few months ago, both Agustinus and his son can be seen and heard jointly voicing slogans including “Papua, independence”, “referendum, yes”, “Indonesia, go home”, “Indonesia, stupid” and “Indonesia, animal”. At the end of the video, Agustinus said that some of the slogans were too “evil” and told his son not to repeat them.
Article 45A (2) of Law on Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE Law), under which Agustinus has been charged, carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to one billion rupiah (around US$66,700) for “any person who deliberately and without right disseminates information aimed at inflicting hatred or hostility on individuals and/or certain groups in the society based on ethnicity, religion, race and membership of inter-groups (antar-golongan) as provided in Article 28(2) of the ITE Law.” Although these articles of the ITE Law speak of information “aimed at inflicting hatred or hostility” on individuals and groups, in practice it has been used to prosecute individuals who use social media or other online platforms to criticise or ridicule abstract entities such as religion or “state ideology”. Thus, the vague and overbroad legislation has often been used to arrest, prosecute and punish persons for peacefully exercising their freedom of speech.
Please write immediately in English, Bahasa or your own language urging Indonesia authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Agustinus Yolemal who has been solely detained for peacefully exercising his human rights, and withdraw any charges against him;
- Ensure that, pending his release, Agustinus Yolemal is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and is provided with regular access to his family, lawyer and any medical treatment he may require;
- Stop using vague and overbroad legislation to arrest, prosecute and punish persons for peacefully exercising their human rights.