Jailed Jakarta governor drops appeal against blasphemy conviction

Imprisoned Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has decided to withdraw an appeal against his two-year sentence for blasphemy, his family said. 

A Jakarta court on May 9 sentenced Basuki, a Christian of Chinese descent, to two years in prison for remarks he made about the Qur’an that were deemed blasphemous by some Muslims.

rumahlembang-ahok
Photo: Ahok.org

The verdict sparked protests by Basuki’s supporters, who believe he was a victim of a political witch-hunt.

“After a lengthy discussion we the family decided to withdraw the appeal,” said Basuki’s sister Fifi Lety Indra, who is also one of his lawyers.

Basuki’s wife, Veronica Tan, wept as she read out a letter from her husband explaining why he decided not to seek an acquittal.

“I know it’s not easy for you to accept this,” the letter read. “But I’m learning to accept all of this if it’s for the good of the nation.”

Basuki said he did not want people to be divided by protests in support of and against him.

Basuki, popularly known as Ahok, could still be freed if an appeal by prosecutors, who had recommended a one-year suspended sentence, is upheld by the Jakarta High Court.

He lost a re-election bid in last month’s gubernatorial run-off to former education minister Anies Baswedan, despite securing the most votes in a three-way first-round poll on February 15.

In September, Basuki said his opponents had “lied” to them by saying the Qur’an prohibited them from voting for a non-Muslim governor.

Hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims demanded his prosecution at rallies in the months that followed.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, but Christians make up about 10 per cent of its 250 million people.

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