In a letter from prison, Jakarta’s former governor says he accepts the verdict and does not plan to appeal it, calling on his supporters to stop protesting, fearful of possible Islamist infiltration.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has decided to drop his appeal against a controversial two-year prison sentence for blasphemy. His wife Veronica Tan made the announcement two days ago.
The former governor of Jakarta is currently in jail at the National Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) detention centre.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Tan read a handwritten note from her husband, explaining the reasons behind his decision not to proceed with the appeal. After accepting the verdict, Ahok told his lawyers not to go ahead with the case at the Jakarta District Court.
Veronica Tan told reporters that her husband knows the importance of forgiveness and has accepted his conviction in the interests of the nation.
"Bapak (head of the family) accepts the verdict and does not intend to proceed for the good of all the Indonesian people and the family,” she said, in a trembling voice, her eyes filled with tears.
“We are no longer interested in extending this problem. We are bound to accept the sentence and support [Ahok] in the best possible way."
She then read her husband’s letter in which he calls on his supporters to stay calm, accept the decision of the judges and stop protesting against the sentence.
"I know it is not easy for you to accept this reality,’ he writes, but “it is not appropriate to demonstrate in the process I am experiencing right now. I am afraid that many will be riding the protest.” If something should happen, it would be “a loss to the citizens of Jakarta”.
The jailed leader goes on to say “The Lord does not sleep. Put your hope in the Lord, now and forever. In my faith, I say ‘The Lord will work out his plans for my life’.”
Ahok is concerned that protests by his supporters might be infiltrated by Islamist movements who in recent months have led a violent campaign against him and his policies in favour of a modern and pluralistic society.
Ignoring the public prosecutor’s request, the North Jakarta court sentenced Ahok on 9 May to a far heavier sentence than the prosecution had suggested.
The verdict has sparked contradictory reactions across the country. Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians, of all religions, have taken to the streets in torch-lit protests in support of Ahok and holding peaceful rallies in solidarity with the former governor.