Former Jakarta Governor Ahok Refuses Parole Hoping for Early Release

ICC Note: The ethnic Chinese Christian former governor Ahok will refuse parole in hopes of being released as early as next month. He was sentenced in May of 2017 to two years for blasphemy against Islam. Many have criticized the decision to imprison Ahok, saying that the court bowed to pressure from the radical Muslim group FPI.  

07/12/2018 Indonesia (Straits Times) – Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is serving a two-year jail sentence for blasphemy, will refuse parole in hope of an early release date.

Better known as Ahok, the Chinese-Christian politician will be eligible for parole in August this year, which means he will be released for up to four hours a day.

“But he has decided not to take it, and will wait until he is completely free instead,” said his sister Fifi Lety Indra in an Instagram post on Wednesday (July 11).

According to his sister, there is a chance Basuki could be released as early as next month after having served almost two-thirds of his sentence, and taking into account the possible remission he may be granted for good behaviour.

“But rather than (speculate), let’s wait for the exact count in August,” she added.

Local prison authorities confirmed that Basuki has served two-thirds of his sentence and has been “cooperative” during his time behind bars, although they would not comment if he has been granted parole yet.

As a Christian, Basuki was eligible – and given remission – for the Christmas holidays last year.

He may also have more time shaved off his sentence during Indonesia’s Independence Day celebrations on Aug 17.

An early release would cap what has been a trying couple of years for Basuki, who was jailed for two years in May last year (2017) after a Jakarta court found him guilty of blasphemy against Islam.

The controversial sentence was handed down weeks after he had lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to his Muslim rival Anies Baswedan.

Prior to his downfall, Basuki was poised to make history as the first elected governor of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta who is not only Chinese, but also Christian.

But his straight-talking manner and championing of pluralism, which endeared him to many, also saw his opponents turn that against him.

They had leapt on a speech he made in September 2016, when he referred to the Quran and told constituents not to be deceived by his opponents who say Muslims cannot elect a non-Muslim leader.

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