Convicted Jakarta governor Ahok urges supporters to leave detention facility

Supporters of former Jakarta governor Ahok holding a rally outside the Brimob detention centre in West Java, Indonesia where he is being held. Ahok has called upon them to leave the area. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) - Convicted Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Thursday (May 11) asked his supporters to leave an area in front the National Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) detention centre in West Java where he is being held, saying he was fine and safe inside the facility.

Basuki conveyed his message through a loudspeaker, which was connected to the room where he was being detained.

"To my friends in front of the Brimob headquarters, I'm calling on you, who have gathered here to support me, to disperse," the 50-year-old said as quoted by on Thurday, which is the Vesak Day national holiday in Indonesia.

"I'm safe here. I hope you can disperse now. Otherwise, I will be taken to another place. Should I be taken outside Jakarta? Ladies and gentlemen, if you love me, please disperse," he said.

Basuki said he hoped his supporters could go home. He also hoped there would be no candlelight vigil to show sympathy for his detention.

On Tuesday, the North Jakarta District Court sentenced Basuki to two years in prison for blasphemy in a surprise outcome of the case.

The punishment was much harsher than the suspended sentence the prosecution had sought for the ethnic-Chinese Christian governor, prompting warnings that Islam is creeping into politics and the judiciary of the secular nation.

Basuki, who was widely admired for his no-nonsense drive to modernise a chaotic city long plagued by traffic and flooding, was hurriedly transferred to the high-security police facility in a suburb of the city early on Wednesday after his supporters surrounded the Jakarta jail he was initially sent to.

On the following day, his supporters held candlelight vigils and delivered speeches in several areas across Jakarta, including in front of the Brimob headquarters, to call for his detention to be delayed.

Ahok said he was worried some people would provoke them if they remained outside the detention centre.

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