Ratna Sarumpaet, an outspoken critic of President Joko Widodo’s government who is now a senior member of the presidential campaign team of Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto for next April’s election, will likely lose face over what appears to be a lie meant to earn her sympathy.
On Monday, Ratna, who was once questioned by the police for treason over an alleged attempt by anti-government political figures to overthrow Jokowi in 2016, made headlines around the country recently after a photo showing her bruised face went viral online. According to her account, as relayed by fellow Prabowo campaigners, she was assaulted by three unidentified assailants at Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung, where she was attending an international conference on September 21. She claimed that she did not report the assault to the police out of fear for the safety of her family.
On Tuesday, she met with Prabowo himself to tell him about the assault, after which Prabowo and senior opposition politicians publicly condemned the “cowardly” attack.
“This is a repressive act, a clear violation of human rights… to do this to a lady who is already 70, it’s outrageous,” Prabowo said during the press conference.
Unfortunately for Ratna and Prabowo’s campaign, some quick detective work by the Jakarta Metro Police and West Java Police showed there was no assault at all.
In a police report that has circulated among Indonesian journalists and received by Coconuts, which has been confirmed by the Jakarta Metro Police this morning, investigators found that there was no international conference in Bandung on the day of her supposed assault. There was also no record of Ratna’s arrival at Husein Sastranegara Airport that day either, nor was there any record of her checking in at the hospital where she claimed she was treated.
In fact, the police found that Ratna’s phone data records showed that she was in Jakarta from Sept. 20-24. Her financial transactions showed that she had three plastic surgery procedures done on the 20th, 21st, and the 24th in Jakarta. The police confirmed that Ratna did check in at the plastic surgery clinic on those days, as evidenced by CCTV footage of her entering and exiting the establishment.
In the report, the police say they may charge those suspected of spreading the lie with causing public disorder with misinformation, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or violating the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which is punishable by up to six years in prison.
After the spread of the police report, Prabowo’s campaign team seems to be distancing themselves from any culpability in the alleged victimization farce.
“The person who can explain this is Bu Ratna, which is why from the beginning we asked Bu Ratna to tell her story to the public, not to be scared,” Prabowo campaigner Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak told Detik today.
Ratna herself has not released any statements regarding this latest update.
Prabowo, along with his running mate former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno, are going head to head against President Jokowi and his running mate Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Chairman Ma’ruf Amin in next April’s presidential election. The latest survey showed that Jokowi and Ma’ruf hold a huge lead over their rivals.