Human rights activists support Ahok amidst cry for his arrest in blasphemy case

Human rights activists argue that Ahok is being penalised for a crime he did not commit

Jakarta Governor Basuki
Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama Reuters

While radical Muslims in Indonesia are baying for the blood of Jakarta's governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a number of human rights activists have defended the Chinese Christian leader saying that he is being penalised for a crime he did not commit.

Jakarta post reported Sulistyowati Irianto, a Law professor and activist from the University of Indonesia saying on Saturday that Ahok's case id fabricated and few parties are using the opportunity to malign the image of the governor so that his chances of getting re-elected go down.

"Politicians and the authorities can forge articles to rule the case in their favour. Therefore, we want the judges to maintain independence in the trial," said Sulistyowati, according to the news website.

Also, the chairman of human rights watchdog the Setara Institute, Hendardi said that the Attorney General's Office (AGO) has been rendered helpless by the pressure created by the public who are keen to have Ahok removed from office. He also questions the report on Ahok that was submitted to the court in less than a week. He claims that it was done in a hasty manner.

"The dossier consists of 826 pages; how can it be examined so fast? The AGO is like a postman that delivers a message from the police to the court," said Hendardi, as reported.

Ahok was announced as the prime suspect in the high-profile blasphemy case on 16 November.

It is believed that the governor, during a speech, criticised his opponents for citing a verse in the Quran which warns Muslims against forming an alliance with Christians and Jews saying that they were "lying".

However, the National Police also accepted the fact that naming Ahok as a prime suspect was a tedious job as there were sharp differences and contradictory views among investigators.

Currently, Jakarta police are on high alert as the city prepares to witness Ahok's trial. The trial will start from 13 December at the old Central Jakarta Court building.

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