INDONESIA: Balinese musicians stand trial for dogging police
Members of Bali-based rock band accused of violating Criminal Code by insulting police in song lyrics
Thursday, October 5, 2006
Denpasar --- Two musicians went on trial Wednesday at the Denpasar District Court in Bali for allegedly singing a song that likened a police officer to a dog.
The suspects, Sofian Hadi aka Ed Edy and Teguh Setiabudi aka Igo -- members of Bali-based rock band Ed Edy and Residivis -- are accused of insulting the police force with their song lyrics Anjing (dog).
Lead singer Ed Edy and guitarist Igo of the band could face 18 months in jail if proven guilty, Antara reported.
The two musicians, along with three other members of the band, were arrested by the police while playing at a charity concert for victims of an earthquake in Yogyakarta last July in Denpasar.
During the event they sang Anjing, an incendiary song containing strong language: Anjing! Kukira Preman. Anjing! Ternyata Polisi (Dog! I thought it was a gangster, dog! Turned out it was a cop).
A number of policemen providing security at the concert stormed the stage and arrested the musicians at the close of the song.
The five musicians were jailed soon after for questioning but were released after 24 hours.
The musicians were charged under Article 207 of the Criminal Code for insulting state institutions.
Prosecutor Ridwan Kadir was quoted by Antara as saying that according to language experts, lyrics of Anjing did contain language insulting the police force.
"In the lyrics, the police are likened to dogs," Ridwan said.
Arguing his case, Ed Edy attempted to persuade judges at the Denpasar court to let him sing Anjing to understand its meaning in context. The panel of judges turned down the request.
Calling someone a dog is considered a major insult in Indonesian.
A number of Balinese artists grouped in the Alliance of Balinese United Artists turned up during the trial to support the group.
The artists demanded the judges acquit the musicians of all charges.
The two musicians said they did not understand why they were being prosecuted.
"We don't know why we are here. We just sang at a benefit concert for the Yogya quake victims, now we are standing trial for it," Ed Edy said.
Following the fall of the New Order regime, restrictions on freedom of speech and art have been lifted and anti-government demonstrations are now allowed.
Despite this, several prodemocracy activists and students have been arrested and charged for verbally insulting the president or other high-ranking officials in recent years.
Artists have also been forced to remove work containing nudity that some conservative Muslim groups find offensive.
Date Posted: 10/5/2006