INDONESIA: USCIRF Denounces the Recent Conviction and Sentencing of Jakarta’s Governor for Blasphemy
USCIRF Calls for the Release of Those Accused of or Convicted of Blasphemy
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) denounces the recent conviction of Jakarta’s governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known as “Ahok” – on blasphemy charges. Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison despite the prosecutors’ recommendation that the blasphemy charges be dropped.
“USCIRF remains very concerned with countries such as Indonesia that have blasphemy laws. These laws are used to intimidate and harass individuals, including religious dissenters and minorities and violate their freedom of religion and belief,” said USCIRF chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
In its 2017 annual report, USCIRF again placed Indonesia on its Tier 2 list as it has since 2004. Tier 2 includes nations in which the religious violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are systematic, ongoing, and/or egregious.
“We call on the Indonesian government at the central, provincial, and local levels to comply with the Indonesian constitution and international human rights standards. The Indonesian government should repeal article 156(a) of the Penal Code and unconditionally release anyone sentenced for ‘deviancy,’ ‘denigrating religion,’ or ‘blasphemy’,” said USCIRF Vice Chairman Daniel Mark who traveled to Indonesia in 2015 to assess religious freedom conditions.