USCIRF Welcomes Release of Jailed Jakarta Governor; Denounces Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed the early release from prison of former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known as “Ahok” – after serving almost two years following a blasphemy conviction. USCIRF denounced the conviction and sentencing of Mr. Basuki in May 2017, which took place despite prosecutors’ recommendation that the blasphemy charges be dropped.

USCIRF Chair Tenzin Dorjee said, “Although we welcome Mr. Basuki’s early release, we’re troubled by the fact that Indonesia’s blasphemy law remains on the books and continues to be enforced in other cases. This law violates international human rights standards and until it is repealed, hardline and intolerant groups can continue to target religious minorities, such as Ahmadiyya and Shi’a Muslims, as well as Christians, simply for exercising their fundamental freedoms of speech and religion.”

In each of its annual reports since 2004 USCIRF has placed Indonesia on its Tier 2 list for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard used to designate a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act.