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Activist accused of 'spreading communist ideas' faces 7 year jail sentence

Tempo - January 4, 2018

Ika Ningtyas, Banyuwangi – The state prosecutor in a hearing at the Banyuwangi District Court in East Java on January 4 has demanded that activist Heri Budiawan alias Budi Pego be jailed for seven years minus time already spent in detention.

Budi is charged with spreading communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas over a banner with the symbol of a hammer-and-sickle which appeared during a protest action by scores of Pesanggaran sub-district residents opposing a gold-mine on April 4, 2017.

Budi was indicted under Article 107 Paragraph (a) of Law Number 27/1999 on Revisions to the Criminal Code related to crimes against state security.

"The defendant has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing a crime which is related to crimes against state security", said state prosecutor Budhi Cahyono when reading out the sentence demand.

According to the prosecutor, Budi Pego was the coordinator and planner of the action who instructed residents to hold a protest action. The banners rejecting the mine used at the demonstration were made at the 37-year-old man's house.

Based on expert testimonies, said the prosecutor, the crossed shaped hammer-and-sickle symbol was identical to the internationally recognised symbol of communism.

Thus, said the prosecutor, any person who displays a picture of the hammer-and-sickle in a public place shall be deemed to be spreading communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas which is illegal in Indonesia.

"The incorporation of the logo or hammer-and-sickle symbol was a form of spreading communist ideology although it was still in the initial stages", said Cahyono.

During the court hearing the prosecution presented 16 witnesses and four pieces of material evidence in the form of eight banners, [a picture of] the pickup truck that carried the banner, a set of [car] keys and a flash disk containing a video covering the protest action against the mine.

Out of the eight banners submitted as material evidence however, not one had a logo of the hammer-and-sickle on them. According to the prosecutor, they have not yet been able to find the banner with the hammer-and-sickle on it. "The said banner is included in the list of evidence being sought", he said.

One of Budi's defense lawyers, Ahmad Rifai, said that the prosecution's demands were excessive. Yet, based on the facts revealed during the trial, not one witness saw a banner with the hammer-and-sickle at the house of the defendant.

"Moreover the banner with the hammer-and-sickle was not able to be presented to the court", said Rifai.

The case against Budi began on April 4, 2017 when scores of residents from Pesanggaran sub-district put up banners opposing a gold-mine run by the companies PT Bumi Suksesindo and PT Damai Suksesindo. The protesters made the 11 banners at Budi's house out of white cloth and spray paint.

When the banners were being made, Budi claims that there six police officer watching over them. The banners were then put up along the road between Merah Island beach and the Lowi intersection around five kilometres away.

The following day however, Budi was approached by several police officers who claimed that there was a hammer-and-sickle logo on one of the banners.

Police presented several photos of the banner as evidence. "If it was me who made [the banners], they why wasn't I arrested immediately back then", said Budi who has been actively opposing the mine since 2014.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Dituduh Sebarkan Komunisme, Aktivis Lingkungan Dituntut 7 Tahun.]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1047482/dituduh-sebarkan-komunisme-aktivis-lingkungan-dituntut-7-tahun.

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