Rights groups demand release of detained activist amid suspicion he was framed

Illustration only. Photo: David Martinez
Illustration only. Photo: David Martinez

Rights groups in Indonesia are demanding the release of Ravio Patra, a human rights activist and outspoken critic of the government, who was reportedly arrested for inciting violence despite suspicion that he was framed.

Several major rights groups, including free speech advocates SAFEnet, the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), and the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), issued a joint statement today condemning Ravio’s recent arrest.

The statement detailed that yesterday afternoon, Ravio suspected that somebody had hacked his Whatsapp account, and shared his suspicions with SAFEnet and on Twitter. By the evening, he had retrieved his account and found that a message, containing calls for nationwide looting on April 30, was sent to several phone numbers from his account. The incitement of violence online could be classified as a criminal act under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE) and the country’s Criminal Code.

Ravio then coordinated with rights groups about getting to a safe house after learning that someone had gone to his place of residence to look for him. After not hearing from Ravio for hours, SAFEnet said it received word this morning that Ravio was arrested by the police outside the safe house.

In the statement, the coalition of rights groups demanded that President Joko Widodo and the National Police not criminalize Ravio and silence criticism in the country.

“The president and the National Police chief must stop all attempts by certain parties to hack devices and social media accounts of people who criticize the government in order to push it towards becoming transparent and functioning,” a demand in the statement read.

The statement noted that some of Ravio’s recent activities include criticizing the government’s COVID-19 response in an article for news outlet Tirto, as well as criticizing a presidential staffer for alleged conflicts of interest due to the staffer’s continued role in his private company despite his public service role.

The hashtag #bebaskanravio (free Ravio) has become one of the top trending topics on Twitter in Indonesia this afternoon, with netizens backing the activist in what they see as a sham of an arrest. An online petition demanding Ravio’s release was also launched this afternoon. 

The Jakarta Metro Police this afternoon confirmed that a man with the initials RPA — understood to be Ravio — was arrested for allegedly spreading a message that could provoke public chaos, but said that he is still under investigation and that no charges have yet been filed against him.

Also Read — New report says UU ITE used against Indonesian media and journalists 8 times in 2018, higher than previous years

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, POLITICS

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