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U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,
February 25, 2009
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens and upheld civil liberties. Nonetheless, there were problems during the year in the following areas: killings by security forces; vigilantism; harsh prison conditions; impunity for prison authorities and some other officials; corruption in the judicial system; limitations on free speech; societal abuse and discrimination against religious groups and interference with freedom of religion, sometimes with the complicity of local officials; instances of violence and sexual abuse against women and children; trafficking in persons; child labor; and failure to enforce labor standards and worker rights.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Freedom of Association
On April 19, approximately 350 members of the Islamic sect Ahmadiyya from 200 chapters across the country were forced to cancel their national conference in Bali when the Bali police would not issue them a permit (see section 2.c.).
The constitution provides for “all persons the right to worship according to his or her own religion or belief” and states that “the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God.” The government generally respected the former provision. Six faiths Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism—received official recognition in the form of representation at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
On January 15, the government-appointed Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society recommended the government dissolve the Ahmaddiyah sect.
On June 9, the government issued a decree prohibiting the Ahmaddiyah from proselytizing and conducting religious activities, as well as prohibiting vigilantism against the sect. The decree warned Ahmaddiyah members against making their own interpretations of Islam and against spreading their beliefs. Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that the decree did not prohibit the Ahmadiyya from worshipping or continuing to practice within its own community.
On September 1, the South Sumatra governor banned Ahmadiyyah and any activities of the Indonesian Jamaah Ahmadiyyah organization in the province.
Persons whose religion was not one of the six officially recognized faiths had difficulty obtaining an identity card, which was necessary to register marriages, births, and divorces. Men and women of different religions experienced difficulties in marrying and in registering marriages. The government refused to register a marriage unless a religious marriage ceremony had taken place. However, very few religious officials were willing to take part in weddings involving couples of different faiths. For this reason, some brides and grooms converted to their partner’s religion. Others resorted to traveling overseas to wed.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Throughout the year numerous Ahmadiyya communities were attacked by vigilante groups, and over 20 mosques were forcibly shut down. A number of these incidents occurred after the release of the July decree that banned attacks on the religious group.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2008 International Religious Freedom Report.