United Nations' experts on human rights on Monday (22/05) urged the Indonesian government to repeal its criminalization of blasphemy and overturn Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama’s two-year sentence for insulting Islam. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

UN Experts Urge Gov't to Overturn Ahok's Sentence

BY :SHEANY

MAY 23, 2017

Jakarta. United Nations' experts on human rights on Monday (22/05) urged the Indonesian government to repeal its criminalization of blasphemy and overturn Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama’s two-year sentence for insulting Islam.

"We urge the government to overturn Mr. Purnama’s sentence on appeal or to extend to him whatever form of clemency may be available under Indonesian law, so he may be released from prison immediately," the experts were quoted as saying in a joint statement issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The joint statement was signed by UN special rapporteurs Ahmed Shaheed, David Kaye and Alfred de Zayas — all three are independent experts in the UN Human Rights System.

According to the special rapporteurs, criminal laws that penalize blasphemy represent an unlawful restriction on freedom of expression and disproportionately target religious minorities or traditional religions, non-believers as well as political dissidents.

They added that the blasphemy law is incompatible with a democratic society like Indonesia and harms the country’s religious pluralism.

They emphasized that "the existence of blasphemy law can be used to justify intolerance and hate speech."

The experts also said they were disappointed with the government’s decision to prosecute Ahok following mounting pressure from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), aggressive media campaigns and various violent protests against the then Jakarta governor.

"It is disappointing, instead of speaking out against hate speech by the leader of the protests, the Indonesian authorities appear to have appeased incitement to religious intolerance and discrimination," the experts said.

Ahok was found guilty earlier this month of insulting Islam and sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

On Monday, Ahok and his legal team decided not to proceed with an appeal against his blasphemy conviction.

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