Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – After facing a deluge of criticism over the planned release of convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo declared that the firebrand cleric must express loyalty to the state ideology of Pancasila if he wants to be paroled.
Jokowi had said on Friday that the 80-year-old, believed to be behind the 2002 Bali bombings, would be released on humanitarian grounds. However, on Tuesday the president laid out the conditions that must be met for the release to happen.
"As I said before, the humanitarian considerations are that ustaz Ba'asyir is very old and has many health problems," Jokowi said.
"But we have a legal system and we have to go through the legal mechanism for conditional parole. The conditions for that must be fulfilled. I cannot clash with that. For example, loyalty to the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia], loyalty to Pancasila: Those are basic principles."
Separately, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu echoed Jokowi's statement.
"Yes, of course [he has to accept Pancasila]," Ryamizard said at the Defense Ministry on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara. "If not, that means he is just a squatter [in this country]. If he squats for too long he may be driven off."
Ba'asyir, who has been in prison since 2011 after receiving a 15-year sentence for funding a military training camp for terrorists in Aceh, has resisted declaring loyalty to Pancasila, which Government Regulation No. 99/2012 stipulates as a condition for obtaining parole.
Ba'asyir's lawyer, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, had previously said Jokowi had agreed that Ba'asyir would be released without having to express any commitment to Pancasila.
"I spoke to Jokowi about this," he said. "We have been running back and forth on Pancasila. While [Ba'asyir's] condition is getting worse and [the President] understood. Therefore, he [said he] would simplify the mechanism." (kmt)