It's Not About Atheism, It's Freedom of Opinion!
Alexander Aan or used to be called Aan, a candidate for Civil Servants (CPNS) origins from Jorong Sungai Kambut, Kenagarian Punjung Island, Sub-district of Punjung Island, Dharmasraya District, who became the defendant because of his faith of claiming to be an atheist, charged with three indictments. The first indictment is spreading information intended to cause hatred and hostility based on ethnicity, religion, race and inter-group, which refers to Article 28 Paragraph (2) Jo. Article 45 Paragraph (2) Law no. 11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions; second, intentionally publicly acts tends to hostility or defamation towards a religion followed by society in Indonesia, which refers to Article 156a letter a Book of Criminal Law (KUHP), and third, the indictment with intentionally publicly doing acts aims to people to not adhere any religion, which is not based on Almighty God, which refers to Article 156a of the Criminal Code b.
Since January 18, 2012, the case has been ongoing and has reached the end of the judicial process, where on June 14, 2012, Muaro District Court Judge, Sijunjung District will be deciding Aan’s case. Accompanied by legal counsel from the Office of the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Padang, Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Aan had undergone 12 times of trial with different agendas. On June 7, 2012, with three indictments, Aan then charged of 3.5 years in prison.
Basically, RI constitution guarantees the right, not to require a person to have a religion or require a person to choose the rights provided by the state. Religion is set in position as a right rather than an obligation. As a right, religion can be used or not be used. Guarantee in Article 28E Paragraph 1 and 2, Article 28I Paragraph 1 of 1945 Constitution requires the state and every citizen to free the choices of other citizens to adhere any religion. Thus, being an atheist is a free choice of citizens who do not take their right to religion.
Indonesia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In its General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the ICCPR, the Human Rights Committee, 1993, religion or belief that is newly formed religious minorities have the right to get protection from the dominant and powerful religious community. General Comment 22 also emphasize, both adherents of theistic, non-theistic, and those who state as not having a religion or belief, both have rights and must obtain protection.
By using the perspective that religion and no religion is a right, then look at the charges against Alexander by the Prosecutor, actually it is not the atheism that is judged in this trial, but the opinion of Alexander that is considered as religious tarnish or disrupt public order. Because it seems clear that the indictments by the prosecutor are all based on of Alexander’s opinion on disbelief to God through the media of Facebook. So Alexander is a matter of freedom of opinion which is criminalized and could threaten anybody!
SETARA Institute confirms that the criminalization towards Alexander is a fallacy because what is written by Alexander in his Facebook did not contain elements of a stimulating, or incitement as criminal elements that must be fulfilled both in Article 28 Jo. Article 45 of Law no. 11/2008 on ITE and in Article 156a of the Criminal Code. SETARA Institute does not support the contents in Alexander’s Facebook. However, the freedom of opinion for every citizen must be guaranteed, including Alexander’s freedom.
Indonesia has guaranteed freedom of expression and opinion in the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia as defined in Article 28 and Article 28 I of Constitution RI 1945, and in some other laws such as Law No.39 of 1999 on Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which has been ratified by Indonesia with Law No 12 of 2005. Therefore, the right to freedom of expression and opinion is one of the rights that has a strong juridical legitimacy in the legislation.
The verdict of 3 years and 6 months in jail for Alexander is excessive and it shows the arbitrariness of law and law enforcement officials. SETARA Institute urged the court to release Alexander from all claims.
HENDARDI, Chairman of SETARA Institute (08111.709.44)
BONAR TIGOR NAIPOSPOS, Vice Chairman of SETARA Institute (0811.819.174)