Indonesia: local activists sentenced to prison

The 7 prisoners from Sukorharjo in Central Java province charged for involvement in the riots outside the PT. RUM synthetic textiles factory faced their final hearing last Tuesday.

The conflict between RUM and the local residents began in October last year, when RUM opened the factory. Since then, the inhabitants of 16 nearby villages reported putrid smell: a smell so bad that dozens of villagers  were forced to leave their homes. Moreover, since the factory opened, Sukoharjo Health Agency reported that each day on average 80 local residents seek medical help for headaches, nausea and respiratory problems.

On 22nd February,  thousands of residents protested in front of the Sukoharjo regent’s office, demanding that Regent Wardoyo Wijaya halt RUM’s operation. The demonstration descended into a chaotic riot that led to the torching of security posts and clashes with the police and soldiers, and arrest of seven activists, who have been kept in custody since then.

The sentences of the 7 prisoners are as follows:

  1. Muhamad Hisbun Payau (Iss), a member of left-wing student organization Pembebasan, sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment.
  2. Sutarno, a resident of Karanganyar, sentenced to two years imprisonment.
  3. Brilian, a resident of Nguter, sentenced to two years imprisonment.
  4. Bambang, a resident of Bulakrejo, sentenced to three years imprisonment and fined 10 million Rupiah.
  5. Kelvin, a resident of Plesan, sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment.
  6. Sukemi, a resident of Celep, sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment.
  7. Danang, a resident of Nguter, sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined 10 million Rupiah.

The first 3 defendants were convicted for violating Article 406, paragraph (1) of the Indonesian Criminal Code regarding “the destruction of property belonging to another person”. The judge’s sentencing was lighter than the demands of Prosecutor Rohmadi who was seeking 4 years and two months imprisonment for Iss and 4 years imprisonment for Sutarno and Brilian.

The remaining 4 defendants were charged and convicted for violating Article 187, paragraphs (1) and (2) along with Article 170, paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code: hate speech and vandalism. The sentences for Danang and Bambang were lower than what the Prosecutor was seeking – the Prosecutor was seeking 4 years imprisonment and a fine of 50 million Rupiah for Danang and 5 years imprisonment along with a 50 million Rupiah fine for Bambang.

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