'They're Looking for Weak Targets': Victim of Mob Justice Speaks Out

Members of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) clash with the public during a peace rally at Losari Beach in Makassar on May 13. (Antara Photo/Sahrul Manda Tikupadang)

By : Dames Alexander Sinaga | on 9:06 AM June 02, 2017
Category : News, Featured, Human Rights

Jakarta. Fiera Lovita, a medical doctor in Solok, West Sumatra, who suffered threats and intimidation after she criticized an Islamic cleric on Facebook, said the group who forced her to sign a letter of apology and flee Solok for Jakarta is looking for more weak targets to bully and persecute.

"They're looking for weak targets. They won't attack men. The intimidation against me was very well planned," Fiera said during a press conference at the office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) in Central Jakarta on Thursday (01/06).

A group of people allegedly from the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in Solok had forced Fiera to sign a letter of apology for her posts on Facebook — which reportedly criticized firebrand FPI cleric Rizieq Shihab for fleeing the country after being charged with a pornography case — and upload the letter on her Facebook account on May 22.

"If you're not guilty, why avoid [police summons]? Don’t you have 300 lawyers and 7 million followers ready to defend you? Please don’t run away," the mother of two apparently said about Rizieq in three separate Facebook posts on May 19-21, as she explained at the YLBHI press conference accompanied by Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) activist Damar Juniarto, head of YLBHI Asfinawati and Anti-Defamation Society of Indonesia (Mafindo) coordinator Astari Yanuarti.

The Facebook posts led first to online threats from members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Defenders of Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwas (GNPF-MUI) and the Front of Islamic Advocates (FMPI) in West Sumatra. The groups are known as loyal supporters of Rizieq.

"Fanaticism has blinded these people. You [Rizieq] have fled overseas after being charged with something that is [also] forbidden in Islam, [and yet] your supporters still admire and try to protect you," Fiera said.

"Your followers are in denial that your indecency has been exposed. And now you don't dare to face police investigation," she added.

Fiera said the groups who disagreed with her Facebook posts had shared them accompanied by hateful comments to turn the public against her, accusing her of insulting Islam and Muslim clerics. "They threatened to kill me, called me a slut, called me a communist," Fiera said.

Fiera said she received scant support from her colleagues at the Solok General Hospital or from her own community and left the city to seek protection in Jakarta earlier this week.

"I decided to get out of Solok. I have no other choice. No one will protect me there, and I don't feel comfortable working at the hospital anymore," she said, adding that the pressure on her comes almost non-stop and seems to be well-organized.

Prominent lawyer and rights advocate Todung Mulya Lubis said he will take on the mantle as Fiera's defense counsel.

"I will defend Fiera from intimidation and persecution," Todung said on Monday (29/05), as quoted by Beritasatu.com.

Cases of mob justice have come to the surface in Indonesia in the past couple of weeks, the latest of which on May 28 involved FPI members storming the house of a 15-year-old student in East Jakarta who they also accused of insulting their leader Rizieq on Facebook.

The student, Putra Mario Alvian Alexander, like Fiera was threatened with physical violence and forced to sign a letter of apology. A video of the incident was uploaded to Facebook and quickly went viral.

This time, the police got involved and have since arrested two men who were part of the mob seen on the video.

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