INDONESIA: An atheist on trial for religious defamation


The Asia Human Rights Commission has issued an appeal on behalf of Alex Aan. Read it here. Their appeal gives a lot of information on the case and also gives a list of places you can send your appeal on behalf of Alex. Remember, it’s serious. He faces up to 6 years in prison for making a statement on Facebook.

If you want to support Alex’s case financially, you can send a donation to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Just make sure to earmark it for Alex Aan. So far, we have raised over £600, including a donation from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK.

Comments

  1. says

    Everyone should be allowed to think what they think as long as they don’t force their thoughts on another. People change with new understanding. How about this mother who changed when confronted by her 12-year-old daughter’s paintings.
    kiane Kramarik was born in Mount Morris, Illinois to a Lithuanian mother and an American father. She is homeschooled.[1]

    She is primarily a self-taught painter. However, she states that God has given her the visions and abilities to create her artwork, which is unusual for her family, considering both her parents were atheist at the time (they later converted to Christianity on account of Kramarik’s paintings and visions). Kramarik started drawing at the age of four, advancing to painting at six, and writing poetry at seven. Her first completed self-portrait sold for US$10,000.[2] A portion of the money generated from sales is donated by Kramarik to charities.[3] According to Kramarik, her art is inspired by her visions of heaven, and her personal connection with God. Kramarik’s art depicts life, landscape, and people.

    http://www.shangralafamilyfun.com/prodigy.html

  2. Rafiq Mahmood says

    Asia Human Rights Commission have issued an urgent appeal on behalf of Alexander Aan, on trial in Muaro Sijunjung, Sumatra, Indonesia (not Padang, as stated in their report). Alex is not the only person on trial under the blasphemy laws in Indonesia but he may be the only atheist and he may be the only person charged under the Information and Electronic Transactions law.

    Their appeal has requested a letter-writing campaign, has suggested a model letter and has given a list of eight people to write to in favour of freedom of speech and releasing Alex. This may well be useful in raising awareness.

    Alex’s lawyers and I agree that it would be practical and useful for Alex’s case to write to the actual judges and respectfully remind them that the world is watching and expects them to fully consider:

    1. Indonesia is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantees freedom of religion. According to the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 22, freedom of religion also includes the freedom to have and adopt atheism.

    2. Section 28 of the Information and Electronic Transactions Act makes it an offence for anyone to “intentionally and without just cause disseminate information aimed at causing feelings of hatred or hostility either individually or towards groups of people based on ethnicity, religion, race, or between groups”. It is up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant actually intended to stir up hatred or hostility between people by his alleged facebook postings.

    It is not sufficient that the hatred or hostility is only directed at the defendant himself. It is a reasonable assumption that no reasonable, sane and legally competent person would intentionally stir up hatred against himself and there would be no public interest in preventing him doing so in any event.

    It is not necessary to protect the feelings of anyone visiting a site entitled “Ateis Minang” from postings against the doctrines or beliefs of any religion. People should no more me shocked, angry, upset about or surprised by what they find there than anyone who drinks from a bottle marked POISON should be entitled to complain to the manufacturers when they get ill.

    3. Article 156a of the Indonesian Criminal Code provides, “A person shall be liable to a maximum term of imprisonment of five years who deliberately and publicly expresses feelings or commits acts: a. which are principally in the nature of being at enmity with, abusive of or desecrating a religion adhered to in Indonesia; b. with the intention to make a person not adopt a religion based on the belief in an almighty god.

    On the second count, although the facebook site Ateis Minang is publicly accessible, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant’s postings were the DELIBERATE and PUBLIC expression of feelings which were principally at enmity with etc. a religion in Indonesia. Every religion in Indonesia is at enmity with, abusive and desecrating of every other religion in their scriptures, forms of worship, discussions and sermons, all of which are publicly accessible. If the words of 156a clause a. were taken literally then all religious practice in Indonesia, including Islam, would have to be shut down. Deliberate and public must mean going into a public place, like a street or mall or, in electronic terms, trolling a site which you are not in agreement with, and being intimidating and abusive (something the FPI – the Islamic Defenders Front – get away with regularly).

    4. On the third count the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to try to force or prevent someone believing in an almighty god. This, of course, is impossible. No one, least of all a purported member of one of the most highly marginalised groups of people in Indonesia, atheists, could possibly attempt to control what anyone thought. The only people who were ever able to attempt to force people into atheism were the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union, China and North Korea who could suppress public worship, had the media of state propaganda at their disposal and could control what was taught in the education system. As is plainly evident, even that sort of top-down coercion doesn’t work. In the defendant’s case such an assertion is ridiculous in the extreme.

    Letters to the judges would carry far more weight (and be more likely to be read) if they are written or translated into Indonesian and also signed in writing. If you want help translating letters please send me a message on facebook (Rafiq Mahmood in Bogor, Indonesia). If you can’t get through to the court fax machine I will let you know a fax number you can send your letter to or an email address you can send a scanned copy of your letter to and we can post it locally here in Indonesia. I would suggest a fax to the court is more likely to be read than an email sent directly to them.

    It is perfectly legal and acceptable in Indonesia to write to judges but please, of course, be respectful and use calm and moderate language.

    This is the address to write to:

    Ketua Pengadilan Negeri Muaro
    Jl. Prof. M. Yamin, SH No. 51
    Muaro Sijunjung 27511
    Sumatera Barat
    Indonesia
    Tel: +62 754 20065
    Fax: +62 754 20066
    E-mail: info@pn-muaro.go.id

Leave a Reply