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Alexander Aan is Released

Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist sentenced to 30 months in prison for merely saying that he is an atheist on Facebook, has been released from prison after 18 months. Unfortunately, he now will likely have to remain in hiding because of threats to his life. He was already beaten by an angry mob before going to prison. Michael De Dora reports on what’s going on:

In January 2012, Aan was attacked at his workplace by an angry mob over posts he made on Facebook about his atheism, as well as cartoons he shared that were critical of Islamic prophet Muhammad. When police arrived, they arrested Aan and charged him with blasphemy, promoting atheism, lying on an official government document (Indonesia requires its citizens to claim one of six official religion; Aan marked Islam), and disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility. In June 2012, a district court found Aan guilty of disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility, and sentenced him to 30 months in prison. He was also fined 100 million rupiah (US $8,190).

My colleagues and I at the Center for Inquiry are ecstatic to learn that Aan has been released from prison. Aan did nothing more than exercise the most basic of human rights — the freedom to believe and to express one’s beliefs — and for that he lost 18 months of his life. That is unconscionable.

We wanted to publicly celebrate Aan’s release when we heard about it on January 27 but, because of the high sensitivity of his case and the precarious nature of the release, we proceeded cautiously. I have been in constant contact with Alex’s friends, as well as other activists working on his case, to make sure all the reported facts were correct, and that announcing his release would not put him in further risk. It was only after the Jakarta Post published their story that we felt comfortable finally announcing Aan’s release.

You see, Aan is unfortunately not yet completely free. Aan was released “on license,” which means he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities. Furthermore, Aan is vulnerable to vigilante retribution, which means he will be forced to keep a low profile for some time. As such, I urge everyone to not draw attention to Aan or his physical whereabouts.

I certainly hope he can remain safe. Ultimately, he may need to leave the country to be safe, another victim of the barbaric blasphemy laws that are all too common.

Comments

  1. kevinalexander says

    he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities.

    Whose address is public information. So the faithful don’t have to look for him, he’ll come to them.
    This doesn’t look good.

  2. whheydt says

    “Ultimately, he may need to leave the country to be safe”

    I think the “may” should be changed to “will” if you’re trying for any accuracy/

  3. Michael Heath says

    The article Ed quotes:

    When police arrived, they arrested Aan and charged him with blasphemy, promoting atheism, lying on an official government document (Indonesia requires its citizens to claim one of six official religion; Aan marked Islam), and disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility. In June 2012, a district court found Aan guilty of disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility, and sentenced him to 30 months in prison. He was also fined 100 million rupiah (US $8,190).
    […]
    Aan is unfortunately not yet completely free. Aan was released “on license,” which means he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities.
    [Heath bolded text above.]

    If Mr. Aan had been convicted of lying on a government document, I wonder if these same authorities would have been required to ask Mr. Aan whether he subscribes to the religion he claims on government documents. And what if he had then claimed to be irreligious? Back in the clink?

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @4. grumpyoldfart : “Indonesia is a member of UN Human Rights Council. Funny old world isn’t it?”

    Funny may not be most apt word for it. If memory serves Syria under Bashar Al_Assad or his father was once teh head of that Human Rights UN group too – rendering that group a sick joke.

    Its one reason why I think the UN is actually worse than useless.

    Indonesia is an awful nation with a brutal government and a sadistic military plus a lot of fundamentalist Jihadist groups and an extremist Muslim population that is guilty of acts of appalling evil in East Timor, West Papua and elsewhere. It is also extremely artificial relic of colonial times sometimes referred to as the Javanese empire where the main island exercises a tyrannical rule of many diverse cultural groups such as Borneo and Bali and West Papua. It would be a great thing for most of its people and the planet more broadly if it were to be broken up and reduced considerably in power and might in my view.

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @3. colnago80 & #2.whheydt : Agreed 100 percent.

    At least he’s out of jail now – he should flee overseas and then speak out as strongly as possible against Indonesia and the Muslim fanatics who dominate it.

  6. ebotebo says

    He’d better take his whole family with him, perhaps friends as well, if I know those who are religiously insane!

  7. sh3baproject says

    @6. i wish we humans could stop sissy fighting and just unite as a species,but the idea of nations and the ineffectiveness of the UN keeps us apart. plus those religious extremists.

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