Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Communism article used to sentence activist in Indonesia




Communism article used to sentence activist in Indonesia

Communism article used to sentence activist in Indonesia

by Moses Ompusunggu, Wahyoe Boediwardhana

JAKARTA/BANYUWANGI, Indonesia (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The Banyuwangi District Court in East Java sentenced on Tuesday environmentalist Heri Budiawan, 37, to 10 months’ imprisonment for violating Criminal Code provisions on crimes against state security.

He was found guilty of spreading communism during a rally opposing the presence of a gold mining company in Gunung Tumpang Pitu, East Java.

Heri is the first person to be penalised under articles banning communism in Indonesia since the fall of strongman Soeharto — which initiated in the 1960s a communist scare to counter antigovernment activities — in 1998.

Prosecutors originally sought seven years in prison for Heri, one of the highest sentence demands for rights activists and environmentalists implicated in criminal cases to date, according to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

Heri’s lawyer, Abdul Wahid Habibullah, said he would appeal the ruling and that his client had been penalized for “something he never committed.”

“Many events could not be proven during the trial, such as the presence of a banner that was said to display the hammer-and-sickle logo,” he said.

Heri, nicknamed Budi Pego, was arrested in September 2017 for allegedly displaying a banner with a hammer-and-sickle logo during an April protest against gold mining activities in an area prone to environmental degradation. His lawyer and colleagues denied the claim.

Amnesty International Indonesia slammed the ruling, calling it a “repression of citizens’ constitutional rights to free speech.”

Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said in a statement Tuesday that the organisation “is calling for higher judiciary institution to free Budi Pego, who fights for the environment and rights of people living around Gunung Tumpang Pitu.”

Usman said the court had failed to deliver justice because of “weak evidence” to support allegations levelled at Budi.

“Even though the ruling was much lower than the prosecutor’s demand, it has still offended the public’s sense of justice, because the allegation of spreading communism was used by authorities to charge a person who peacefully voiced his criticism,” Usman said.

In 2006, the Banyuwangi regency administration granted a mining business license to PT Indo Multi Niaga, which later transferred it to PT Merdeka Copper Gold through its two subsidiaries. These were PT Bumi Suksesindo (BS), which was given the right to work on 4,998 hectares, and PT Damai Suksesindo, which was to manage 6,623 ha.

The local community publicly opposed the establishment of mining operations in 1997. The latest protest was conducted on Nov. 25 and ended in clashes between local demonstrators and security personnel.

Tumpang Pitu had been designated a protected forest area, but on Nov. 19, 2013, then forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan, now the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman, issued a decree changing the status of 1,942 ha of protected forest to production forest in Tumpang Pitu, paving the way for mining operations to begin.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

    The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields. Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • China firm to develop Mondulkiri airport

    Tourism to the Kingdom’s northeast corridor could experience a remarkable metamorphosis after the government decided in principle of a Chinese company to study and develop a proposal to build a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri province, according to industry insiders. The Council of Ministers said