Who could have been the Indonesian President?

Indonesian court takes action against Widodo

An Indonesian court ruled on Wednesday (June 4, 2020) that the restrictions on Internet access in the eastern province of Papua last year were illegal. In August and September 2019, demonstrations by members of the Papuan ethnic group and violent clashes with security forces broke out in various cities in the eastern provinces.

The trigger was a video posted on the Internet about racist statements by Indonesian police officers against students from Papua. The incident occurred in the city of Surabaya, Java. The students had previously allegedly dishonored an Indonesian flag in their dormitory.

(Archive) Special Task Force in Papua, September 2019

"Against the spread of false reports "

At the time, the authorities justified the throttling of the Internet speed by stating that they wanted to prevent the spread of false reports that could fuel further violence.

This order has now been labeled an "unlawful act by a government agency and / or a government official" by the Jakarta Administrative Court. The suspects named were President Widodo and his communications minister, Johnny G. Plate. You can appeal the judgment within 14 days. It is unclear whether it will have any practical consequences.

Minister Plate defended the behavior of President Widodo at the time, who had acted in the interests of the people, including the inhabitants of Papua, in the newspaper "Tempo". Incidentally, Plate does not want to know of any documents showing that the government was considering switching off or throttling the Internet in Papua and West Papua in August 2019. Rather, it is conceivable that damage to the infrastructure would have led to problems with the Internet at the time.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has been criticized

"Instructions for future government action "

Abdul Manan of the Alliance of Independent Indonesian Journalists (AJI), which initiated the trial, has expressed hope that the ruling will provide guidance to the government for future cases. "The government would do well to follow the judgment of the court," said Abdul Manan in an interview with DW. In particular, the court made it clear that the government cannot simply publish such a far-reaching decision that encroaches on citizens' rights as a press release.

In addition, the court had made it clear that the recourse to the Indonesian law regulating the Internet ("Law on information and electronic transactions") was a pretext and not sufficient to justify the suspension of civil rights. "We hope that this ruling will set a precedent for the future so that the government will act more cautiously if it wants to impose restrictions and blockages on the Internet," says journalist Manan.