• Urgent Action

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

September 3, 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 September 2, 2021, he was escorted by the prosecutors to serve his prison sentence after the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected his cassation appeal. Amnesty International is calling on the President to grant Saiful Mahdi an amnesty, as he has been jailed solely for peacefully expressing his opinion.


  1. Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on November 3, 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.
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 concerned by the criminalization of Saiful Mahdi, a lecturer of Syiah Kuala University in Aceh, who was brought to Banda Aceh’s Class II A Penitentiary on September 2, 2021 to start serving his three-month prison sentence solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. As you may be aware, the Supreme Court rejected Saiful’s cassation appeal and upheld the lower court’s sentence that found him guilty of defamation for writing a message in a WhatsApp group criticizing what he suspected to be irregularities in a civil servant test at the university’s faculty of engineering. He was convicted under Article 27 (3) of the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law, which has been repeatedly used by authorities or private individuals to target critical voices. I believe that Saiful Mahdi should not have been punished in the first place simply for sharing his opinion, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Indonesia has ratified. Moreover, I fear that his incarceration does not only violate his human rights, but also threatens academic freedom in the country. I acknowledge that on the first day of his imprisonment, Saiful Mahdi’s lawyers submitted an official letter asking you to grant him a Presidential amnesty. Therefore, I urge you to immediately grant Saiful Mahdi an amnesty and release him from jail. I also call upon the government to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is fully and effectively respected, protected, promoted, and fulfilled, including by revising the ITE Law in accordance with Indonesia’s obligations under international human rights law. Sincerely, [YOUR NAME] ADDITIONAL RESOURCES