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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
INDONESIA: Religious violence result of authorities consent in past cases
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges a full investigation into the killings of at least three followers of the Ahamadiyah Islamic minority sect that occurred on Sunday February 6, 2011 in Umbulan village in Banten. As incidents of religious violence have been repeated in the last year, the AHRC cannot help but notice the lack of police action to prevent violence against religious minorities.
The aggression against the Ahamadiyah is justified by the local residents based on the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) declaration that labelled the Ahamadiyah as heretic. However, it is the duty of the police to protect the rights of every person to exercise their freedom of religion as a human right and a fundamental right in Indonesia. In past attacks and mob violence against religious minorities the police often claimed not have had enough personnel in the place to avoid the eruption of violence. Indonesia saw a series of attacks including violence against members of religious minorities and burning of places of worship.
“The police can no longer hide behind the claim not being able to stop such violence” Wong Kai Shing, the Executive Director of the AHRC said. Such incidents do not typically come as a surprise and the police is often aware of such clashes ahead.
The negligence of the authorities, which in many cases amounts to consent to such violence, has resulted in a serious deterioration of the situation of religious freedom and has encouraged agitators to take more drastic measures of violence against minorities.
The 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree against promoting activities by the Ahamadyas has labelled them as a target and presents a major set-back for religious freedom and plurality in Indonesia.
Violence broke out in Temanggung Central Java in a blasphemy trial against Antonious Richmond Bawengan. After prosecutors demanded a five year prison sentence for the blasphemy charge a mob of fundamentalist Muslims demanded the death penalty, burned churches and cars and attacked the court room. The situation in Temanggung is reportedly chaotic.
The AHRC sees the increasing use of extreme violence in cases of fundamentalist religious views as a result of the inaction of the authorities in the last years in similar cases and blatant negligence by the government against fundamental rights.
The AHRC demands an impartial investigation into all cases of religious violence and expects the government of Indonesia and the police to take a strong stance against any religious intolerance. Democracy is not the rule of majorities over minorities but must be based on the uncompromised protection of fundamental rights including the freedom of religion.