Please join the world in condemning yesterday's 30-month prison sentence given to Indonesian civil servant Alexander Aan for saying what FFRF'ers and 750 million people today believe: "There is no God." FFRF's formal letter of complaint below lays out the facts. You may also read more about the case in recent news articles: “Facebook Atheist Jailed in Indonesia” or “Man gets jail for declaring himself an atheist.”
Contact the President of Indonesia and the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia (emails and contact information follows) today to protest this violation of human conscience — and Indonesia's first imprisonment of a citizen for the "crime" of being an atheist.
Thank you for your help!
June 15, 2012
SENT VIA U.S. MAIL AND EMAIL
Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ()
President of Indonesia
Jl. Alternatif Cibubur Puri Cikeas Indah No. 2
Desa Nagrag Kec. Gunung PutriKab. Bogor – 16967 Indonesia
Ambassador Scot Marciel ()
U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia
Embassy of the United States to Indonesia
Jl. Merdeka Selatan 4-5
Jakarta 10110, Indonesia
Fax: (62-21) 386-2259
Re: Overturn Outrageous Miscarriage of Justice in Alexander Aan Sentencing
Dear Mr. President and Ambassador:
On behalf of the 18,500 nonreligious members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which works to promote secular government, I am writing to express dismay and outrage over the 30-month sentence and $10,000 fine of Alexander Aan for the victimless crime of blasphemy. It is untenable that the nation of Indonesia essentially has made it a crime to be an atheist. Judge Eka Prasetya Budi Dharma said Aan’s open declaration that he is an atheist is not permitted of a citizen and civil servant, and that the state ideology of Pancasila and the Constitution oblige every citizen to have a religion. Although the blasphemy and “encouraging atheism” charges were technically dropped, Aan was convicted of inciting religious hatred in part merely for posting on Facebook that “God does not exist.” All of our members, not to mention three centuries of leading thinkers since the Enlightenment, would agree with Aan that “God does not exist.” Mr. Aan’s views are also shared by more than 15% of the U.S. adult population, and between 500 million and 750 million persons worldwide who reject the unsupported concept of a supernatural deity. Are we all to be imprisoned? Thought and reason cannot and should not be outlawed.
We respectfully urge you to make it your highest priority to overturn or commute Mr. Aan’s sentence immediately. It is our understanding that Aan is the first person in Indonesia to be sent to prison for espousing atheism. It is essential not only that this sentence be overturned, but that Aan be the last such victim of religious intolerance in Indonesia. Indonesia’s crime against liberty of conscience, rightly being condemned around the world, is an egregious violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also a stain on Indonesia’s reputation as a modern democracy where Islam is supposedly compatible with human rights. Our organization is formally urging freethinkers and proponents of liberty worldwide to engage in a tourism boycott of Indonesia until Mr. Aan is out of jeopardy, and until the punitive and irrational crackdown on the nonreligious is ended in Indonesia. Who could feel safe as a tourist in a nation that punishes someone simply for exercising the powers of critical thought? The increase in persecutions for blasphemy must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a foundational document separating religious dogma from state authority: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. . . . Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” It is not a crime to speak one’s convictions, much less to speak the truth, that “the emperor has no clothes.”
Only those who realize they have shaky evidence for their beliefs would fall back on the brutality of thought control, police force and imprisonment to punish someone simply for expressing disagreement or skepticism about religious claims. As Bertrand Russell observed: “Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindliness in favor of systematic hatred.”
The prosecution and imprisonment of Mr. Aan is indeed a cruel and hateful persecution not worthy of the nation of Indonesia. Freedom of conscience is a paramount human right, which must be cherished and protected in every nation.
We urge you both to take on the cause of Alexander Aan so that he is freed, and to ensure that freedom from theocratic persecution prevails in Indonesia.
Annie Laurie Gaylor