Environmental Activist Arrested Under Anti-Communist Law
TEMPO.CO, Banyuwangi - Heri Budiawa, an activist opposing gold mining activities in Banyuwangi, East Java, has been arrested under the anti-communist law.
Heri Budiawan was detained on Monday at Banyuwangi Penitentiary after the prosecutors’ office declared that the police investigation report was complete. He has been charged under article 107 (a) of Law No. 27/1999 on crime against the state security. The article says that anyone who propagates and develop communism, Marxism or Leninism in any forms and kinds will be facing a maximum sentence of 12 years.
The case started when scores of Pesanggaran sub-district displayed banners to reject gold mining activities of mining company PT Damai Suksesindo (DSI) on April 4. The words on the banners were written earlier by three individuals at Budi’s house.
Later at night, the police came to Budi’s house and accused him of drawing the communist symbol on the banner. The police showed pictures as evidence. “When we wrote [words] on the banner, six cops were watching; there wasn’t any hammer and sickle logo,” he told Tempo before the arrest.
The police had earlier arrested three other suspects on May 15.
Budi said that since 2014 he had staged dozens of rallies against mining companies. He had opposed to the exploitation of Mount Tumpang Pitu by PT Bumi Suksesindo (PT BSI). In 2017, he fights against an exploration of Mount Salakan by PT DSI. Both PT BSI and PT DSI are subsidiaries of PT Merdeka Copper Gold.
The arrest of the 37-year-old man has sparked outrage among close friends and families. They considered that the arrest was an attempt to suppress the resistance of the people of Pesanggaran sub-district opposing gold mining activities in the coastal area. “The arrest of Budi Pego won’t deter us for voicing our thoughts,” a local said.
Budi Pego defense lawyer Subagyo said he will request bail. “My client has been cooperative, he won’t run away,” said the lawyer Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Surabaya chapter. Some 18 lawyers are representing the four suspects.
The lawyer said that the police have registered a baseless case because they have no evidence that his client had propagated communism. He pointed out that not one of the eight banners confiscated by the police contains hammer and sickle symbol. “It’s an example that the law can be used to intimidate people who fight for a cause,” he said.