#INDONESIA – ASEAN lawmakers alarmed at conviction of Jakarta governor

Lawmakers across Southeast Asia have expressed concern over the sentencing of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, to two years in prison for blasphemy on Tuesday.

“The verdict is deeply disconcerting not only for Indonesia but for the entire ASEAN region. Indonesia was thought to be a regional leader in terms of democracy and openness. This decision places that position in jeopardy and raises concerns about Indonesia’s future as an open, tolerant, diverse society,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“Ahok has become a victim of rising extremism and religious identity politics. But this decision has impacts beyond justice for one individual. It is a triumph for intolerance and an ominous sign for minority rights. At a time when fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, are under increasing threat region-wide, this verdict sends the wrong signal to Indonesia’s neighbors in the ASEAN community,” he said in a written statement.

Ahok, Jakarta’s second Christian governor after Henk Ngantung (1964-1965), was convicted of blasphemy by the North Jakarta District Court and sentenced to two years in prison.

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The charges stemmed from a September speech, in which he invoked a verse from the Quran in criticizing the arguments of those who suggested that Muslims could not vote for a Christian leader.

APHR said the ruling could embolden religious hard-liners in the country and called into further question Indonesia’s harsh Blasphemy Law, which permits prison sentences of up to five years for those found guilty.

Source – TheNation

#Thailand – Facebook lese majeste charges

SIX PEOPLE were charged and put on remand for alleged royal defamation, sedition, and computer crimes on Wednesday after being in military custody since last weekend, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Among the six was Prawet Prapanukul, a human rights lawyer widely known for defending red-shirt political prisoners such as Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul.

Prawet has denied he posted provocative and insulting messages against the monarchy on Facebook. He has been charged with lese majeste, computer crimes and sedition.

Another suspect who was identified as Danai faced the same charges but officers who brought the case to court did not describe the details of his alleged crimes, only saying he was the same person facing an arrest warrant dated April 28, the TLHR reported. Danai has denied the charges. The four others were accused of defaming the monarchy and committing computer crimes by sharing a Facebook post regarding the mysterious disappearance of the Siamese Revolution plaque. 

Three of them admitted the crimes while the fourth denied the charges. The criminal court rejected bail requests for the six and ordered that they be remanded in custody until May 14.

The THRL stated the six might have been detained in the 11th Military Circle since last Saturday. Relatives and lawyers had not been able to contact them since then, the THRL wrote on its website.

Source – TheNation

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