Activist reported to police for defamation after comparing former president Megawati with Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi

PDI-P chairwoman and former Indonesia president Megawati Soekarnoputri.
PDI-P chairwoman and former Indonesia president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Indonesian political activist, journalist, and filmmaker Dandhy Dwi Laksono has been reported to the police for online defamation after he compared former president and current PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri with Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi amid rising concerns in Indonesia about the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

At 2pm yesterday, a volunteer wing of PDI-P called DPD Repdem reported Dandhy to the East Java Police for his Facebook post, which they allege to be defamatory to both Megawati and her party cadre President Joko Widodo under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), a highly controversial and ambiguously worded law that has been used to criminalize legitimate criticism.

In the police report, DPD Repdem said they had a problem with a paragraph in Dandhy’s post, uploaded last Sunday, which suggested that there is a similarity between Suu Kyi and Megawati’s leaderships of their respective governing political parties. Dandhy argued that both administrations, through “political officers” taking the helm as heads of state, caused humanitarian crises in their respective countries: the attacks on the Rohingya people in Myanmar and the increase in the imprisonment of Papuan independence activists in Indonesia.

“Dandhy’s writing suggested that Megawati, PDI-P, and President Jokowi, who won the election (in 2014), have committed crimes against Papuans,” said DPD Repdem East Java Chairman Abdi Edison, as quoted by Tirto yesterday.

“On the whole, (Dandhy’s) opinion was clearly intended to take advantage of the Rohingya incidents in Myanmar in order to insult and spread hatred of Megawati Soekarnoputri as the chairwoman of PDI-P and Joko Widodo as the president who is backed by PDI-P.”

The police have yet to investigate Dandhy based on the report.

Responding to the police report, Dandhy today wrote a Facebook post condemning the ambiguity of UU ITE and its apparent use in silencing legitimate criticism like his. However, he stressed that the report against him pales in comparison to the injustices suffered by many oppressed people such as by the aforementioned Papuans, the farmers in Kendeng protesting the construction of a cement factory, as well as the attacks on the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Dandhy also wrote that he had received numerous messages of support, including from lawyers willing to give legal aid in his defense should the need arise.

Many netizens have condemned the police report against Dandhy, as they don’t believe those who present legitimate criticism, backed up with factual data, should be charged with defamation. Defamation under UU ITE is punishable by up to four years in prison.

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