On March 7, 2019, Indonesian police arrested Robertus Robet, a State University of Jakarta (UNJ) sociology professor, in apparent retaliation for expression critical of Indonesia’s government.
On March 6, a video surfaced online of Robet, who is also a human rights activist and a board member of Amnesty International Indonesia, singing a protest song critical of Indonesia’s military and government at a human rights demonstration on February 28. Shortly after the video was circulated, police arrested Robet at his house and briefly held him in custody before releasing him. Authorities have charged Robet under Indonesia’s electronic information and transactions law for allegedly “insulting the military.” A date for his first hearing has not been publicly announced.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a scholar in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against such conduct, so long as it is carried out peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, arbitrary arrests undermine freedom of expression, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.