Ahok's Handwritten Letter Explains Decision to Forego Appeal
BY : ALIN ALMANAR
MAY 23, 2017
Jakarta. Veronica Tan, imprisoned Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's wife, on Tuesday (23/05) delivered a tearful reading of a letter her husband wrote explaining his decision to forego an appeal of his recent blasphemy conviction.
Ahok wrote the letter on Sunday, a day before his legal team and Veronica delivered it to the North Jakarta District Court to formally withdrawal the appeal. According to reports, the governor's legal team and family debated whether to announce Ahok's withdrawal or continue in the appeal process.
Veronica, flanked by her husband's lawyers, read Ahok's letter to reporters in Central Jakarta, saying that her husband decided not to challenge the court's decision.
"I know, it's not easy for all of us, let alone me, to accept this reality. But I've learned to forgive and accept all of this," Veronica said.
Monday's decision comes on the heels of mounting public solidarity with Ahok, who was found guilty by the North Jakarta District Court earlier this month for insulting Islam and was sentenced to two years in jail.
Thousands of supporters across the archipelago and beyond have held candlelight vigils since the guilty verdict was announced, calling for the imprisoned governor's release.
Ahok expressed gratitude to his supporters in his letter, saying, "I want to thank you all, who have kept supporting me, for all the prayers, wish cards, letters, books and even gatherings to light candles."
However, the imprisoned governor called on his followers not to press ahead with further rallies, "for the sake of the nation and the country."
"It's not right to hold rallies against each other over what I'm experiencing now. I'm concerned that many sides will exploit the rallies. There may be clashes with those who take issue with our struggle," Ahok wrote.
Ahok stood trial amid mounting pressure from hardline Muslims, who took to the streets of the nation's capital in recent months to demand the governor's ouster from office and eventual arrest.
Ahok, a Chinese-Christian, lightheartedly referenced a Koranic verse last November to urge residents not to use the holy book for political gain.
Closing out his letter, Ahok referenced the Bible in his message to supporters: "Put your hope in the Lord, now and always. He will work out his plan for my life," he said.
Ahok is currently detained at the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok, West Java.