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The Joke is on the Indonesian National Police

June 19, 2020, 05.20 PM

JAKARTA, – When civil servant Ismail Ahmad posted late Indonesian President Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid’s joke on the police in his Facebook account last week, he didn't expect it would earn him more than just likes.

The native of North Maluku’s Sula Islands said Indonesian National Police officers summoned him after he uploaded the joke.

“I did not think that [the police] will take offense. I found the joke funny so I posted it,” he told on Thursday, June 18. “I did not mean any offense.” 

Starting the joke

“There are three types of honest cops,” went Gus Dur’s joke. “Stationary [statues of] cops, sleeping cops [speed bumps], and [incorruptible late National Police chief] General Hoegeng.”

"I got a WhatsApp message from an official asking me to delete the post. So I did,” Ismail recalled.

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The police then showed up and took Ismail away over the joke.

“I cleared up the matter [with the police] and apologized,” he said. 

The police’s side of the story

Indonesian National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono downplayed the incident. “The incident is not reported, so there is no case,” he said in a press release.

“The police merely asked [Ismail] to clarify his post,” Argo added. “The North Maluku Regional Police asked their Directorate of Special Crimes to be more discerning in getting information, especially those found in social media.”

The ensuing storm

The case might be closed for the police, but not civil society. Among those speaking up are the Gusdurian Network [Jaringan Gusdurian], a group dedicated to Gus Dur’s legacy.

Alissa Wahid talks to the Mega Purnamasari Alissa Wahid talks to the media

“Although police in Sula closed their case against Ismail because he apologized, their summons of Ismail is a form of intimidation by a government institution against the people,” said Gus Dur’s daughter and Gusdurian Network coordinator Alissa Wahid.

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“The case is the latest example by the authorities to misuse the Information and Electronic Transaction Law to muzzle freedom of speech in Indonesia,” she said in a press statement.

“I also call on law enforcers to keep the public from voicing their opinions” Alissa noted. “After all, freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed in the 1945 Constitution.”

Police overreaction

Amnesty International Indonesia also criticized the police. “The police is overreacting,” said Amnesty Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid. "They also cannot understand freedom of expression.”

Usman noted that the case reflected the increasing threats to freedom of speech. “Their actions will backfire and cost them the public’s trust,” he added. “The National Police’s credibility will be questioned as it is unconstitutional.”

Summons to intimidate the public

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation [YLBHI] head Asfinawati said the police have overreacted. “The police should summon or arrest an individual for legal process, not coercion or other purposes,” she said.

The YLBHI said it is further investigating the case. 

(Writer: Devina Halim/Editor : Icha Rastika) 


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