Jakarta – Journalist, filmmaker and founder of the production house Watchdoc, Dandhy Dwi Laksono, was arrested by police on charges of violating Article 28 Paragraph (2) of the Electronic Transaction and Information (ITE) Law on the night of Thursday September 26. The charges relate to tweets he posted on Twitter on September 23 about violence in Papua.
Laksono however says that his arrest cannot be compared with what has been happening in Papua.
"My case is far less important that what I was tweeting about in Papua", he said at the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) offices in South Jakarta on Friday September 27.
After police allowed him to return home early on Friday morning, Laksono now carries the status of a suspect for actions which he says intended no harm. He only sought to explain the flow of information about the true situation in Papua.
Laksono said that he has long been disseminating information about conditions in conflict areas, including Aceh. According to Laksono, access to information in conflict areas is usually restricted.
"For some time now I have helped friends in conflict area where information is restricted. As a citizen I felt this need especially after [Papua rights lawyer] Veronica Koman was criminalised [for posting information about Papua], no one is covering the cases confronting our friends in Papua", he said.
Breaking the information blackout
Victor Mambor, AJI's regional coordinator of in Papua, confirmed Laksono's remarks saying that Laksono's actions have in fact help disseminate information which has been blocked in Papua.
"Honestly, we have been helped. At the moment information from Papua has been closed own. Only yesterday in Wamena the internet was shut down", said Mambor.
Mambor said Laksono's tweets have in fact helped explain incidents in Papua so that there are no misconceptions.
"In the midst of the information blackout that exists in Papua, we need people like Mas [Brother] Dandhy to convey information, provide context and set straight what is [actually] happening in Papua", he said.
Despite this, Laksono emphasised that the state's response to this was to arrest him without any warning. Laksono questioned the urgency of the crimes which he has been charged with and why his arrest was carried out in the middle of the night without prior notification.
"How is the state responding to the problems [in Papua]? By making arrests in the middle of the night, police coming [into people's] homes. There wasn't anything wrong in the (arrest) procedures. There was an order, an arrest warrant, they read out the violations, they went through it all. But what was so urgent about the crime, that it had to be in the [middle of the] night. There was never any summons, clarification", said Laksono.
A similar view was expressed by Alghiffari Aqsa, one of Laksono's lawyers from the Ammar law firm. He said that they have protested the urgency on the part of police in arresting his client.
"We protested, why wasn't there a summons [first]? All of a sudden he's declared a suspect in the [middle of] the night. Was it because a national situation which needed a response? Were Dandhy and [Tempo journalist] Ananda (Badudu) arrested because their roles were considered so vital", said Agsa. (fey/pmg)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Dandhy: Kasus Saya Lebih Kecil dari Cuitan tentang Papua".]