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Photo: Antara News

Ahok, Jakarta’s non-active Governor issues letter from prison

Veronica Tan, the wife of Jakarta's non-active governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), read a handwritten letter from her husband, written in prison for his supporters after he was sentenced to two years imprisonment on 9 May.

Huge crowds of Indonesian Muslims had earlier protested against the governor last December demanding for his execution in light of an edited video of his remarks on a Quranic verse being circulated on social media.

After a series of court-trials started on 13 Dec last year, prosecutors had called for the blasphemy counts to be dropped in exchange for a lesser charge of 'spreading hate' in April, asking for two years’ probation and one year in prison, admitting there was no evidence that the governor had committed blasphemy.

However, the court decided that he was guilty of blasphemy for suggesting that some people had abused a Quranic verse to block his re-election bid.

The Indonesian news Antara reported the content of the letter, in which Mr Purnama thanked his supporters but urged them to cease demonstrating to support him, for the benefit of the nation and the state. The content of the letter which TOC translated from Bahasa Indonesia is presented below.

Depok Jail, Sunday 21 May 2017.

To my beloved volunteers and supporters of Ahok, all who have gone through the democratic process wherever they may be.

I have been thinking a lot about what happened to me. I would like to thank the brothers who continue to support me in prayer, the delivery of flowers, food, greeting cards, letters, books, even by gathering and burning candlelight. I know it's not easy for you to accept this fact. Moreover it is with me.

But I have learned to forgive and accept all this. If for the good of the nation and the state, it would be a loss to the citizens of Jakarta from the side of congestion and economic losses caused by a demonstration that disrupts traffic.

(And), it is not appropriate to demonstrate in the process I am experiencing right now. I am afraid that many will be riding the protest, not to mention it can become a clash with opponents who do not like our struggle.

(However), thank you for conducting the demonstrations and candle-lighting in an obedient manner; may constitution be enforced in Indonesia with Pancasila (five principles), the 1945 Constitution, and Bhineka Tunggal Ika (many flows – tribes, religions, rass – but one aim).

Let us show that God is sovereign and in control of every nation's history. Show that we are people who believe in One God, who must love our fellow human beings, must uphold the truth and justice for our fellow human beings.

The Lord does not sleep.

Put your hope in the Lord now and always (Psalm 131:3).

In my believe, I say: “The Lord will work out his plans for my life” (Psalm 138: 8a).

Mr Purnama and his family think, speak, and act according to their believe as Christians. He has revoked his appeal for the two-year sentence from the North Jakarta District Court in the blasphemy case.

Mr Purnama’s attorney, I Wayan Sudirta, in a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday (23 May), said his client was indeed succumbing to the public interest.

"Ahok likes to give in to things that are for the public interest, he does not lose, he often relented, made a suspect, but do not say Ahok lost," said Wayan.

Mr Wayan said the decision was taken after the family discussed it with the team of lawyers. According to him, Mr Purnama’s family judged his decision as the best choice from the worst.

In response to the blasphemy conviction and imprisonment of the Indonesian politician and former governor of Jakarta, a group of United Nations human rights experts has urged the Government of Indonesia to review and repeal its criminalization of blasphemy.