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Govt warned against reviving authoritarianism
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Human rights advocates have warned that disbanding organizations in Indonesia without fair and proper trial could lead the nation back to authoritarianism.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and poet Goenawan Mohamad, who is also a former chief editor of Tempo magazine, warned the government on Friday, amid mounting calls from rival groups to dissolve the Jamaah Islamiyah Islamic sect and the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).
Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim said disbanding any organization without a comprehensive trial should be avoided.
“Once we give full power to the government to dissolve any organization, the FPI for example, we would turn back to authoritarianism,” he said.
The radical FPI has widely been blamed for a violent attack on a peaceful rally on Sunday for religious tolerance at the Monument National (Monas) square.
The attack left 70 activists injured from the National Alliance of the Freedom of Faith and Religion (AKKBB) opposed to a government plan to ban Ahmadiyah. The FPI is among hard-line groups fighting for the dissolution of the minority Islamic sect.
“It will be proper to bring the case to trial to uphold democracy. Let the court decide whether the FPI is guilty or not. And if it is, then it will be possible to disband FPI,” Ifdhal said.
He said the country recognized freedom of association. “But it doesn’t mean that any organization or association can do whatever they like. We still have to deal with those organizations in a proper way.”
Goenawan, a member of AKKBB, also said the government should avoid disbanding organizations, including FPI and Ahmadiyah.
However, he demanded the FPI attackers be punished severely according the law.
Goenawan, who witnessed the Sunday attack, thanked police for detaining FPI leader Rizieq Shihab and a number of his followers over the assault.
However, he said he understood the outrage by supporters of former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid against the FPI and Rizieq who publicly bad-mouthed him after the attack.
“About the issue of disbanding the FPI, I personally suggest that we should continue taking into account the right to expression and organization,” he said.
“It’s very dangerous if the government takes the position of easily banning an organization as we experienced in the past during the guided democracy and New Order period,” Goenawan said in a press statement.
He said the nation needed to focus on uniting its citizens. “The people should be freed from anxiety due to unemployment and poverty as well as from terror and thuggery.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Lawyers Team (TPM) criticized the government for “discriminatory treatment” against the FPI in dealing with the Monas attack.
At a press conference Friday, TPM lawyer Mahendradatta said AKKBB activists were also to blame because they had provoked the FPI to attack them.
He alleged that there had been “gunfire” from inside the AKKBB crowd, which incited the attack.
The alliance, which has been campaigning for peace and religious tolerance, has strongly dismissed the FPI’s allegations as a “fabrication”.
Mahendradatta also criticized police for charging Rizieq with Article 156 of the Criminal Code on hostility act in relation to the attack.
“It’s not fair,” he said.
The lawyer said the police should have also charged Ahmadiyah with the same article for religious blasphemy,” he said. “Our demand for this has never been responded to.” (nkn)