Urgent Action: LECTURER SENTENCED FOR WHATSAPP MESSAGE (Indonesia: UA 76.21)

July 14, 2021

Saiful Mahdi, a university lecturer at the Syiah Kuala University in Aceh Province, was sentenced for defamation to three months in prison and a fine of Rp 10 million (approximately USD $690) for writing in a WhatsApp group chat a message criticizing the university’s hiring process of the candidates of civil servants. On June 29, 2021, the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected his cassation appeal and upheld the lower court’s guilty verdict. Amnesty International is calling on the President to grant Saiful Mahdi him amnesty, as he has been targeted solely for expressing his opinion.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on September 14, 2021.
  2. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  3. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 76.21. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Ir. H. Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia
State Secretariat
Jl. Veteran No. 17-18, Central Jakarta,
DKI Jakarta, Indonesia (10110)
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @jokowi
Chargés d’Affaires Iwan Freddy Hari Susanto
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202 775 5200
Twitter: @IndonesiainDC
Facebook: @IndonesiainDC
Salutation: Dear Mr.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear President Widodo,

I am deeply concerned by the Supreme Court’s decision to reject the cassation appeal submitted by Saiful Mahdi, a lecturer of Syiah Kuala University in Aceh, which upheld the lower court’s sentence after finding him guilty of defamation. Convicted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, Saiful Mahdi should be granted a Presidential amnesty.

Saiful Mahdi was charged after he wrote a message in a WhatsApp group chat criticizing what he suspected to be irregularities in a civil servant test for lecturers at the university’s faculty of engineering. Instead of being heard, he was reported by a campus executive who deemed his statement to be offensive. He was charged and later convicted under Article 27 (3) of the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law, accused solely for the criticism he shared.

The draconian cyber-crime law has been repeatedly used by authorities or private individuals to silence dissent and target critical voices. Saiful Mahdi should not be punished for peacefully expressing his opinion, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which has been ratified by Indonesia. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is also guaranteed under Article 28 (3) of the 1945 Constitution, as well as Article 23 of Law No.39/1999.

Furthermore, I fear that the conviction of Saiful Mahdi is not only a violation of his human rights but also presents a serious threat to academic freedom in the country.

Therefore, I urge you to immediately grant Saiful Mahdi an amnesty. I also call upon you and other Indonesian authorities to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is respected, protected and fulfilled, including by revising the ITE Law in accordance to Indonesia’s obligation under international human rights law.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES