Bali punk rock icon JRX sentenced to 14 months in prison for hate speech

Jerinx speaking to the Denpasar Court on Nov. 19, 2020 after his sentencing. Screengrab: Youtube
Jerinx speaking to the Denpasar Court on Nov. 19, 2020 after his sentencing. Screengrab: Youtube

Balinese musician and controversial figure I Gede Ari Astina, who is more popularly known as either Jerinx or JRX, was sentenced to 14 months in prison today after a trial that was seen as another complex threat to freedom of speech in Indonesia. 

Jerinx was “proven to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act by deliberately and unrightly spreading information that has the purpose of creating hatred or enmity among the public,” head judge Ida Ayu Nyoman Adnya Dewi told the Denpasar Court today. 

The final sentence was lower than what prosecutors previously demanded, which was three years in prison. JRX will also get three months deducted from his sentence, as he has served that time in detention during his trial.

JRX and his legal team say that they may consider an appeal against the sentence.

The trial was broadcast live on Youtube and saw more than 12,000 people tuning in, where the chat section was filled with viewers calling for Jerinx to be freed. 

Read Also ⁠— Protesters rally in Denpasar demanding Jerinx’s release

Jerinx, the drummer of arguably Indonesia’s biggest pop-punk band Superman Is Dead (SID), has been on trial over a post deemed insulting by the Balinese chapter of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI). In June, the 43-year-old uploaded a post to his Instagram account @jrxsid where he accused IDI of being “flunkeys” to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The Balinese musician said tests to detect COVID-19 are inaccurate and questioned why the association and hospitals in Indonesia are making testing a requirement for expecting mothers.

Rapid tests are indeed an inaccurate means of screening for the coronavirus, a matter that health experts in Indonesia have also pointed out repeatedly. However, the test is still required for many administrative requirements in the country, including for travel and women who are giving birth in hospitals. 

Compounding the issue is that Jerinx’s vocal rejection against rapid tests coincided with his active sharing and endorsement of COVID-19-related conspiracy theories on social media, including calls for people to stop wearing masks during the pandemic.

During his trial, Jerinx said that he called IDI flunkeys in order to get a reaction from the association. 

“I wished to gain a response, because I had asked IDI to discuss previously and they did not respond. So I was forced to use an eccentric diction with the hopes that it will be responded to,” Jerinx previously said.

Related ⁠— Jerinx, UU ITE, and the endless threat to freedom of expression in Indonesia

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