Sat, 04 Aug 2001

Police detain SIRA activist for inciting hatred

JAKARTA (JP): City police detained on Friday the chairman of Jakarta's Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA), Faisal Saifuddin, after he reportedly ignored police summonses regarding his alleged role in sowing hatred against the government.

Faisal's lawyer Basir Bahuga, however, strongly denied that his client had defied the police summonses, saying that Faisal had showed up for two previous summonses.

City police chief of detectives Sr. Comr. Adang Rochyana said Faisal's detention was aimed at making it easy for the police to conduct their investigation.

"Faisal failed to show up in response to two police summonses. That's why we detained him when he showed up here for the third summons," Adang told reporters at city police headquarters.

He said Faisal was charged with violating articles 154 and 155 of the Criminal Code. The charges are based on the suspect's role in several antigovernment demonstrations at foreign diplomatic facilities, such as the United Nations Office and the Dutch Embassy, in Jakarta in November last year.

Article 154 stipulates that whoever desecrates the national flag or the state emblem could face a maximum sentence of four years in jail or be fined a maximum of Rp 45,000. While Article 155 specifies that whoever spreads writings and pictures expressing hostility and hatred against the government may face a maximum sentence of four-and-a-half years in jail or be fined Rp 4,500 at the maximum.

Accusing the police of making up stories, Basir said there was no reason for the police to detain his client.

"We met the first and the second summonses last month," Basir of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Right Association (PBHI) told The Jakarta Post.

He demanded that the police release Faisal immediately.

He said his client was considering filing a lawsuit against the police for unlawful detention.

Basir also questioned the police's arbitrary action of changing the charges against his client from alleged involvement in a bomb blast at a Acehnese student dormitory on Jl. Tangkuban Perahu, Guntur, South Jakarta, on May 10, to charges of spreading hatred against the government.

"My client should be released because the police have yet to find any evidence that Faisal was involved in the blast."

He argued that the police changed the charges against Faisal because they failed to find any proof of his role in the blast. "That's why they slapped the new charges on the Acehnese youth."

He claimed Faisal and his organization had never sowed hatred against the government, saying that SIRA always campaigned for peaceful referendum.

"During their rallies, including the one at the United Nations Office, they have always behaved in a peaceful manner," Basir said. (jun)