Friday, 31 January 2014

Alexander Aan Released From Jail

Alexander Aan was brutally beaten for saying he is an atheist on Facebook. Then they threw him into jail.
According to the Jakarta Post, Alexander Aan has was released from jail a few days ago after spending around three and a half years incarcerated.

Atheist Alexander Aan gets of prison
Alexander Aan, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on June 15, 2012 under the Blasphemy Law for publicly declaring himself an atheist on Facebook, was released from prison on Jan. 27. 
That's right. He declared himself an atheist on Facebook. Really. That's it.

I'm happy to see he's final out, but I worry about his safety and I'm seriously wondering whether it makes sense to get him out of Indonesia. Perhaps he should seek refugee status in Europe, the US or Canada?

I mean, he got so utterly brutalized after his Facebook posts and his face is, no doubt, highly recognized in the country that I worry.

It's also a shame that Canada didn't freaking mention a peep to Indonesia about his case and that petitions launched by human rights organizations didn't really seem to have much effect at all. Or at least that's how I see it.

Still, glad to see him out! I hope he keeps safe and reaches a safe place.

Update 2014-01-31 16:18EST: 

Since this morning's original post a couple of things happened.  Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist also covered this story with the same original Jakarta Post article and I thank him for the mention!

Michael De Dora from USA Centre For Inquiry has written up a nice press release about what he knows about Aan's now somewhat precarious situation.
We wanted to publicly celebrate Aan's release when we heard about it on January 27 but, because of the high sensitivity of his case and the precarious nature of the release, we proceeded cautiously. I have been in constant contact with Alex's friends, as well as other activists working on his case, to make sure all the reported facts were correct, and that announcing his release would not put him in further risk. It was only after the Jakarta Post published their story that we felt comfortable finally announcing Aan's release. 
You see, Aan is unfortunately not yet completely free. Aan was released "on license," which means he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities. Furthermore, Aan is vulnerable to vigilante retribution, which means he will be forced to keep a low profile for some time. As such, I urge everyone to not draw attention to Aan or his physical whereabouts.
I had a brief discussion with Michael this morning on Facebook and I had briefly took down this post after he voiced similar concerns to mine. However, I put it back up when I realized that other, much larger blogs and media outlets than this blog have covered it -- and most importantly, the local Indonesian media is ramping up their coverage.

Here's hoping all turns out well for Aan. Perhaps he can still make it out of his country someday and seek refuge elsewhere.

If you would like to help Aan or people in similar situations visit the CFI's Campaign for FREE Expression page!


  1. There is plenty of music out there with truly Satanic themes, and some of it is created by artists who are avowed Satanists. I suppose the Christian right either isn't aware of it or has decided that it is not popular enough to attract attention to them when they make a stink about it. It is almost as if their outrage is a publicity stunt rather than anything sincere.

  2. This is a bit of an over-simplification, but the main difference probably boils down to whether the individual experiences significant distress or functional impairment. In the case of mental illness, we'd need to see clear evidence of either distress or impairment. Part of what impairment entails in this context is the notion that one's behavior is deviant and maladaptive within one's own cultural context. Diagnostic systems tend to exclude culturally-sanctioned behavior from being labeled as mental illness.

  3. Right. I think they just have a problem with "secular" music and equate secular with satanic. Because, you know, same thing, right?

  4. Thanks for this comment. Yeah, in the post, I was thinking about how the belief is the same in both cases. Just a matter of degree perhaps.


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