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Indonesia: Jailed For Complaining

The case of Prita Mulyasari, a mother of two,  is currently the hot topic among Indonesian bloggers. She wrote an online complaint letter [id] against a private hospital in Tangerang, one of Jakarta's suburban areas, and now she is being charged for violating chapter 27 verse 3 of the Information and Electronic Transaction Law (UU ITE) [id].

Prita shared her experience of being maltreated by the hospital on a mailing-list. The hospital took legal action against her. That online complaint may result into six years jail term and maximum fine of 1 billion Rupiah (nearly US$ 98,000).

Erwin Mulyadi shared his opinion on his blog, saying:

Seakan kembali ke masa lalu, kebebasan berbicara bakal kembali jadi hal yang mewah di negeri ini. Salah-salah, apa yang kita bahas di internet bisa dijerat dengan pasal ‘pencemaran nama baik’ pada UU Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik (ITE).

[...]

Peristiwa ini lantas menimbulkan keprihatinan bagi saya, yang mengharapkan bahwa pelayanan apapun (termasuk rumah sakit) harus berorientasi pada kepuasan konsumen. Bahwa saat kritik disampaikan (entah dengan redaksional yang subjektif, gaya bahasa yang emosional dan tidak mengikuti kaidah bahsa hukum yang aman) lantas berbuah penjara, tentu membuat keprihatinan kita semua yang terbiasa menulis di ranah maya ini, termasuk para blogger yang menjadi komunitas jurnalis citizen yang paham benar istilah ‘kebebasan berbicara'. Oke taruhlah apa yang ditulis oleh Prita memang dianggap tidak benar dan penuh kebohongan, apakah reaksi ‘balasan’ melalui gugatan ini tidak terlalu berlebihan? Bisa dibayangkan efek psikologis dari peristiwa ini terhadap para penulis yang selama ini kritis dalam ‘meluruskan yang bengkok’ dan bisa dibayangkan betapa mudahnya tiap kritikan akan digugat dengan tuduhan : ‘pencemaran nama baik’

It feels like going back in the past, the freedom of speech soon will become a luxury in the country. Taking a wrong step, we could be strangled by “defamation” chapter  according to the ITE law for things we talk about over the internet.[...]

This unfortunate event saddens me; I personally hope that any service (including hospitals) should aim to have customers satisfaction. All criticism (whether presented subjectively or written in anger, which therefore didn't follow rules on writing's decency) that caused the writer to be put in jail surely saddens us, who often write in the virtual world and bloggers who are considered as citizen journalists who are aware so much about “freedom of speech”. Let say that Prita, who's said to lie, don't you think that the (legal) response is a bit too much? We can all imagine the psychological effect of the case for writers who are critical  in “making things right” and we can imagine how easy criticism is being labeled as “defamation”.

A post on daily social network says:

Sangat disayangkan memang ketika anda mengajukan keluhan di internet, ternyata justru berakhir di penjara. Sedangkan kalau dipikir-pikir di koran-koran terkemuka hampir setiap hari ada saja keluhan terhadap perusahaan ini dan itu dan belum pernah saya dengar ada yang dipenjara karenanya. Mungkin sebaiknya kita lebih baik mengeluh di koran daripada lewat online? Memang sih ada juga kasus penulis surat pembaca yang dipenjara, namun yang ternyata keluhan tersebut diforward dari internet (anonim).

Fakta yang menarik bagaimana orang Indonesia tidak mampu menerima kritik bahkan dari pengguna yang katanya adalah raja. Apapun keluhan anda terhadap instansi apapun, silahkan keluhkan langsung di koran saja dan jangan melalui media online. Keluhan di koran pasti diperhatikan dan dicarikan solusi, keluhan via online akan membawa anda ke penjara.

Apakah ini namanya kebebasan berekspresi? Demokrasi? Sungguh menyedihkan.

It's unfortunate indeed when you're complaining on internet, you ended up in jail. While each day we see a column filled with public complaints against companies, but I've never heard someone being arrested for (having his complaint letter printed on newspaper). Maybe we should complain through newspapers and not complain online? There was  indeed a complaint letter source being jailed, but after we really read about it the complaint was first written online (anonymously).This is an interesting case that shows that Indonesians can't bare criticism, even from customers who are considered kings.  If you have any complaint, printed directly on newspapers, don't go around the Internet.  Your printed complaint will be gain attention, even solution, while the online one will take you to jail.

Is this freedom of expression? Democracy? How pathetic.

Commission for Human Rights’ (KOMNAS HAM) official said[id] that the court is overreacting to use an ITE law to sue a consumer, the commission also said that they're ready to facilitate the victim's family for justice.

Meanwhile,  Indonesian Internet users are taking the public advocacy to the country's latest favorite networking site Facebook.

This case came under the spotlight after the Indonesian Supreme Court acquitted the plea for ITE's reassessment.

Another court session for Prita is set for next week.

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