#AchoGakSalah: Indonesian comedian named defamation suspect after writing complaint about apartment developers in blog

Photo: Instagram/@muhadkly

Indonesian celebrities and netizens are backing stand up comedian Muhadkly MT, popularly known as Acho, after they deemed that he was unjustly was named a criminal suspect for online defamation.

Acho, who lives at the Green Pramuka City apartments in Cempaka Putih, Central Jakarta, wrote several complaints about the management of his building’s facilities in his blog, muhadkly.com, dated March 8, 2015.

In that particular entry, Acho wrote about how his apartment’s developers allegedly overcharged tenants for use of the parking facility, increased utilities costs and failed to uphold their promise to build a green area, among other things.

Then, on November 5, 2015, PT Duta Paramindo Sejahtera, the apartment’s developers, reported Acho to the police for online defamation. Two years went by without any major incident, but on April 26, 2017, Acho was summoned for questioning by the Jakarta Metro Police. On June 9, he was officially named a criminal suspect in the case.

“I did not know I was reported to the police. There were no warnings, no subpoenas, or warning from the developers. All of a sudden I was a suspect by June,” Acho told CNN Indonesia yesterday.

Acho said he resorted to writing in his blog after numerous failed attempts to contact the developers about his and other tenants’ complaints.

“They (the developers) never met with us, and they even ignored our demonstrations. In the end we were only able to vent our frustrations on social media. I did not do it to attack anyone whatsoever, but I did it for the good of the public (to warn them),” he said.

Online defamation is a crime under Indonesia’s controversial and ambiguously worded Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which has been used to punish legitimate criticisms against the government, corporations, and individuals in the past. In Acho’s case, he was named a suspect for violations of Article 27 (3) of UU ITE and Articles 310-311 of the KUHP (Criminal Code), which could see him jailed for up to 4 years.

But as soon as Acho’s legal status became widely known in the media, support for the comedian began flooding in as fellow celebrities and netizens popularized the hashtag #AchoGakSalah (Acho is not guilty), which is still topping the trending topics on Twitter in Indonesia today after it emerged over the weekend.

This is crazy. Stop criminalizing customers. Please help spread the word, friends. We’re with you @muhadkly!

Read about the case that my friend is experiencing. Support with the hashtag #AchoGakSalah

Green Pramuka City apartments developers have not made a public statement regarding the case.

The Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) launched an online petition on change.org demanding that Green Pramuka City drop the case against Acho. You can sign the petition here.

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