Anti-communist sentiment seems to be at its highest point in Indonesia in recent years. Not only can selling communist memorabilia like t-shirts get people arrested, the harmless act of wearing one and uploading it on social media can apparently be considered a criminal act.
Last Tuesday, North Maluku Police in Ternate arrested two social activists, Adlun Fiqri and Supriyadi Sawai, for uploading the photo above to social media. In the photo, one of the suspects was photographed wearing a t-shirt that supposedly contains “leftist propaganda”.
“They were arrested for spreading communist understanding,” said North Maluku Police Chief Brigadier General Zulkarnaen, as quoted by Detik.
At first glance, the print on the t-shirt doesn’t seem to contain anything that could possibly be interpreted as communist propaganda since the writing reads “Pecinta Kopi Indonesia” (Indonesian Coffee Lovers). However, the writing’s acronym, PKI, shares that of the now banned Partai Komunis Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia). In addition, the hammer and sickle are clearly visible as part of the coffee cup.
The police confiscated 4 such t-shirts from the suspects. They also found and confiscated 6 banned books from Adlun that Rappler reported to contain leftist values and stories about the 1965 anti-communist purge in Indonesia, though it remains to be seen if he would also be charged for the possession of these books.
Adlin and Supriyadi were both officially jailed on Friday while their case is being investigated.
“They both refused to sign incarceration letters. The evidence the police used are Adlun’s leftist books that are part of his collection,” said Maharani from the Legal Aid Council, who is representing the two suspects, as quoted by Detik.
“This is outrageous. Adlun and Iki (Supriyadi) refused to be accused of threatening national security. They’re actually helping the nation because they teach street children to read and write and about art.”
Back in February of last year, former Puteri Indonesia Anindya Kusuma Putri caused a similar controversy when she uploaded a photo of herself wearing a hammer and sickle t-shirt on social media. However, she never saw the inside of a jail cell for it.