Amnesty activist arrested for song against Indonesian forces

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A university professor has been arrested in Indonesia after a video of him singing a protest song against the country's military circulated online, Amnesty International said Thursday, denouncing what it said is police's use of an electronic information law to curb free speech.

The rights group said Robertus Robet, a sociology professor at State University of Jakarta, was arrested on Wednesday evening for alleged online criminal defamation. He is also a board member of Amnesty International's Indonesian arm.

The song dates to the 1998 student-led movement against former dictator Suharto and includes the lyrics "The Republic of Indonesia Armed Forces, useless, just disband it, replace with Menwa (student regiment), if needed replace with Scouts."

Robet sang it on Feb. 28 at a Jakarta protest against unresolved cases of rights abuses and plans to give jobless generals roles in the civilian bureaucracy.

"Robet's arrest is not only a clear threat to the freedom of speech and expression in Indonesia, but also poses a threat for human rights activists in general," Amnesty said.

National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Robet is being investigated for hate speech and faces up to two years in prison if convicted under the electronic information and transactions law.

He is being held at national police headquarters and will be released after questioning is completed, Prasetyo said.

The electronic information law prohibits the distribution of information that causes hatred or hostility toward individuals or communities based on ethnicity, religion and race as well as hoaxes and insults to authorities and public bodies.

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