Jakarta – Supporters of rights activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti packed the East Jakarta District Court parking area on Monday April 3.
Scores of people are expected to attend to watch the proceedings of the first hearing in a case of defamation against the activists brought by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
"Around 50 people from various organisations will attend this morning", the coordinator of the Haris-Fatia support group told CNN Indonesia.
A variety of red posters with protest calls were also brought to enliven the action. Messages such as "We have the right to criticise", "Criticism is correction, why is it killed off", "Luhut's track record in mining businesses in Papua" and "We are together with Fatia-Haris" were held up by several people in front of the East Jakarta District Court.
Several explanations and speeches will also be conveyed by the action coordinator in the lead up to the hearing that will start at around 9 am.
Azhar and Maulidiyanti's case dossiers are numbered 202/Pid.Sus/2023/PN Jkt.Tim and 203/Pid.Sus/2023/PN Jkt.Tim. The public prosecution will be conducted in the name of Yanuar Adi Nugroho.
Azhar and Maulidiyanti have been charged under Article 27 Paragraph 3 in conjunction with Article 45 Paragraph 3 of Law Number 19/2016 on Revisions to Law Number 11/2008 on Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE Law) or Article 14 Paragraph 2 and alternative Article 15 of Law Number 1/1946 on Criminal Law Regulations or Article 310 Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph 1 of the 1st KUHP.
The legal proceedings against the pair began with a report by Pandjaitan who felt that his good name had been tarnished by Azhar and Maulidiyanti in relation to a video discussion uploaded on Azhar's YouTube channel titled "There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations in Intan Jaya!! There are also State Intelligence Agency Generals!!".
The police report was made in September 2021 and registered as Number LP/B/4702/IX/2021/SPKT/POLDA METRO JAYA. The police then declared Azhar and Maulidiyanti as suspects.
The Civil Society Coalition meanwhile said it rejects government censorship, one example being the criminalisation of Azhar and Maulidiyanti on defamation charges filed by Pandjaitan.
"In the public realm, members of the pubic who convey and opinion are in fact repressed by the security apparatus. On the other hand, freedom in our digital realm is also being progressively snatched away by legal products such as in the ITE Law", read an official statement by the Coalition on Sunday April 2.
The Coalition stated that despite all of the threats that arise because of the state's arbitrariness, it has not stopped people from continuing to demand the fulfillment of justice and human rights.
"We call for the largest display of solidarity as possible from all citizens who to this day have been victims of criminalisation and threats due to their activities in defending the environment, academic freedom, freedom of the press and injustice", the groups said.
Maulidiyanti is the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and Azhar is the founder of the Lokataru Human Rights Foundation. The two are currently facing trial as defendants on charges of defamation. (frs/ugo)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pendukung Haris-Fatia Padati PN Jakarta Timur Jelang Sidang Perdana".]