Police in West Java named three women, identified by their initials ES, IP and CW — all in their 40s — as suspects for appearing and uploading a video in which they spread unsubstantiated rumors that incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin winning in April’s election would be detrimental for Muslims in the country.
“Since yesterday, we have named them as suspects and we elevated the status from preliminary investigation to full investigation,” West Java Police’s PR Unit Chief Grand Commissioner Trunoyudo Wisno Andiko said today, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
The women have been charged with hate speech under Indonesia’s Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), and, if convicted, they could each face up to six years in prison for deliberately spreading false or misleading information online.
In the viral video, two women can be seen going door-to-door campaigning for Prabowo in a village. When they were speaking to the resident of one house, instead of promoting Prabowo’s programs, the women can be heard spreading the unsubstantiated idea that Muslims would face hardships under a Jokowi leadership.
“Adzan (call to prayer) from mosques will be forbidden, no one will be allowed to wear the hijab. Women can marry women, men can marry men,” the women said in Sundanese in the video.
The three suspects, who are said to be members of a pro-Prabowo volunteer group Mothers Defend Prabowo-Sandi Party (PEPES), were arrested on Sunday night. While Prabowo’s official campaign, BPN, said they have certified PEPES as a volunteer group, the group is said to act independently of BPN.
Head of PEPES, Wulan, denied that the three women are the members of her organization. She suspected that they’re only “sympathizers” of PEPES, because she didn’t find their names on the group’s list of members.
Wulan also said PEPES never direct their members to smear on other candidates during door-to-door campaigns.