Jakarta man faces 6 years in prison for spreading Chinese army laundry hoax

Military uniform supposedly belonging to the Chinese army supposedly hanged at a laundry in North Jakarta. Police have debunked the claims. Photo: screengrab from Instagram/@polres_metro_jakarta_utara
Military uniform supposedly belonging to the Chinese army supposedly hanged at a laundry in North Jakarta. Police have debunked the claims. Photo: screengrab from Instagram/@polres_metro_jakarta_utara

The North Jakarta Police have arrested a 35-year-old man in connection with a viral hoax video alleging that the Chinese army is invading Indonesia.

The suspect, who is identified by his initials AC, was arrested in his Kramat Jati, East Jakarta home after police traced back the source of the video’s spread.

“[The suspect may face] a maximum punishment of six years in prison,” North Jakarta Police Chief Budhi Herdi Susianto said yesterday.

AC was charged with spreading disinformation or hate speech that could provoke animosity among individuals or certain groups under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE).

To the police, AC confessed to sharing the video online without first verifying its authenticity. It’s not yet known who made the video in the first place.

Many sanctions under UU ITE, including for disinformation, do not discriminate between the original makers of problematic online content or those who just share them.

Previously, a video went viral in Indonesia alleging that the Chinese army was invading the country. 

The video showed military uniforms hanging on rows of clothes racks. Whoever was filming the video said from behind the camera that the uniforms belonged to members of the Chinese army and that they had just been cleaned at an undisclosed laundry in Kelapa Gading.

At one point, the narrator speculated that the Chinese army was “prepared to go to war.”

The police later checked 42 laundries in the district and did not find one housing the uniforms, thereby labelling the video a hoax. 

Anti-China paranoia is quite pervasive in Indonesia, especially among supporters of the opposition. Distrust of China as a nation, and of Chinese people, are also high among Indonesians, perpetuated in large part by hoaxes such as Chinese migrants coming over to steal local jobs.

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, VIRALTAGS:

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