Saiful Mahdi Imprisonment Garners International Attention



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The imprisonment of a lecturer of Syiah Kuala University in Aceh, Saiful Mahdi, under the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law has attracted international attention, calling for his release. 

    President of the Indonesia Council Jacqui Baker strongly urged for Saiful Mahdi to be granted amnesty after he was jailed for criticizing the employee recruitment at the campus where he works. Mahdi was charged under the ITE Law for slander.

    “The imprisonment of Saiful Mahdi goes against academic freedom and the freedom of expression,” she wrote on September 17.
    Jacqui Baker said Mahdi is not the first lecturer criminalized after throwing criticism. A communications lecturer of the Makassar Alauddin Islamic University, Ramsiah Tasruddin, was named a suspect in 2019 after criticizing a campus official in a WhatsApp group chat. 

    Another case involved Semarang State University lecturer Hadi Purnomo who was temporarily suspended in 2020 for his Facebook comment regarding President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Sociology lecturer of Jakarta State University Robertus Robet was also arrested and named suspect and charged for spreading hatred after singing a play on an old ABRI (Armed Forces) march. 

    “As members of the Indonesian Council of the Australian Asian Studies Association, Australia's lead agency for Asia Research, we stand in solidarity with our Indonesian counterparts in calling for an amnesty for Saiful Mahdi,” Baker wrote.

    Legal representatives for Saiful Mahdi are filing for an amnesty to President Jokowi and House Speaker Puan Maharani. They are currently waiting for a response.

    Read: KontraS Sees Jokowi Still Allergic to Criticism as Freedom of Speech Restricted