Arnada (Reuters)
Arnada (Reuters)

Playboy Indonesia editor speaks out from jail

Although I refuse to say that I am guilty for violating criminal law for publishing Indonesia Playboy magazine, it never crossed my mind to run away or to try to avoid the two-year prison sentence handed down to me by the Supreme Court. I am a good citizen who respects the law in Indonesia.

On Saturday, October 9, 2010, I went to Jakarta with my lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, to be taken into custody and to begin my sentence. This was in compliance with an agreement made between my lawyer and the prosecution, according to which I was to be taken to the prosecutor’s office that afternoon by Lubis and the Press Council.

This is the reason for my shock and humiliation at being ambushed by dozens of armed officers immediately after landing in Jakarta. I was treated harshly and inhumanely as if I were a terrorist or a drug dealer. Both my lawyer and the Press Council issued protests against this exaggerated use of force, but their complaints were ignored and I was forced into a prison car which took me directly to the prosecutor’s office. There were two truckloads of armed police officers, looking as though they were prepared to wage war in the airport. They put me in a prison car and took me straight away to the prosecutor’s office.

From there, I was taken immediately to Cipinang Prison, the oldest prison in Jakarta. In the prison car, I was angry and felt humiliated. The police and prosecutors treated me like a criminal.

Despite being unjustly treated as a dangerous criminal and imprisoned, I have to remain strong. I always remember the saying “What does not kill you makes you stronger!” In the prison car, I told to the officers who escorted me with weapon, “You can put me in a prison, but my ideas, spirit and thoughts will remain free.” They were just silent, with arrogant looks on their faces.

In Cipinang Prison, my cell friends have expressed their support. They know I am only a political victim. “You do not deserve to be in jail … they have made a big mistake… this is an unfunny joke of the Islamic hard-liners,” they have said to me.

The first two days in Cipinang were the hardest of my life. I have never thought I could be in a prison simply for publishing a magazine.

In this prison, which consists of more than 1,400 men, I have met many different kinds of people–from pickpockets, rapists, and murderers to prosecutors, judges, a former director of the National Bank, and an ex-provincial governor. They are serving sentences between five and 20 years.

After hearing their stories, I have a new perspective on being sentenced to “only” two years. My adjustment process lasted one week. I have tried hard not to be angry and frustrated. Luckily, I see a lot of support from local and international organizations stating my innocence. This support has made me strong and helped me to survive in prison. Now I fill my days with reading books, writing a journal and praying. For these are the only things I can do in here while waiting for my ruling review to be accepted by the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday in Jakarta, the Supreme Court will hear the second, and possibly final, arguments in its review of its decision to sentence editor Arnada to two years in jail for “public indecency.” Arnada’s lawyer told CPJ that there might be one more hearing after that, or the case dossier could be closed and the court will then begin to make its decision.