NTT woman arrested for hate speech after burning mask and declaring COVID-19 a hoax

A screengrab from one of GSDS’ videos, which she first uploaded to Facebook, according to reports. Screengrab: Youtube
A screengrab from one of GSDS’ videos, which she first uploaded to Facebook, according to reports. Screengrab: Youtube

A young woman in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) was arrested last night on charges of hate speech after viral videos showed her burning a mask, belittling health workers and the government, while also claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax.

The 19-year-old woman, identified as GSDS, delivered harsh remarks in two short clips that have circulated widely online, addressing doctors, nurses, and the government. GSDS spoke directly to the camera and even disclosed her full name and location, while repeatedly claiming that the pandemic is fake.

“Don’t believe the doctors and nurses, they are the ones killing the patients. Those who tested negative [for COVID-19] have been registered as positive,” GSDS said in the video.

“You all just want wealth, money, [while] you can’t make [anybody] come back to life, don’t be stupid.”

At one point, GSDS burned a mask on camera and told the audience to throw away hand sanitizers. 

“Prevent COVID by burning masks, throwing away hand sanitizers,” she said. 

“Throw it away, do you want to fight me? Come! I am in Kupang, NTT. Stop fooling the poor, only aiming for worldly pleasures. [You’re all] dogs and animals, idiot government.” 

Police said GSDS was arrested at her home in Kupang city yesterday night, and has since been charged with hate speech under Indonesia’s problematic Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE). She may face up to six years in prison if convicted. GSDS allegedly made six videos, and uploaded at least two to Facebook.

It’s not the first time that someone has been charged on allegations of hate speech with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. Balinese musician and controversial figure I Gede Ari Astina, who’s popularly known as Jerinx or JRX, was sentenced to 14 months in prison in November for hate speech, after he accused the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) of being “flunkeys” to the World Health Organization. 

Related ⁠— Prosecutor, defense in Jerinx’s case file appeals to Supreme Court

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