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HRW ‘Deeply Troubled’ by Police’s Ahmadiyah Attack Investigation
Jakarta Globe | June 17, 2011
Human Rights Watch has criticized Indonesian authorities for failing to uncover the people behind February’s brutal attack on the Ahmadiyah community in western Java.
In a statement obtained by the Jakarta Globe, the New York-based nongovernmental organization calls on police to mount a “full investigation” into the deadly religious violence that left three members of the minority religion dead and another five seriously wounded.
The attack by a mob of 1,500 people on 20 Ahmadis in Cikeusik was captured by an amateur cameraman and uploaded on YouTube.
HRW deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson says courtroom testimony during a hearing on June 9 indicated that Umbulan village head Johar and Ahmad Baghawi, the local branch of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), played roles in setting Feb. 6 “as the date to forcibly remove the Ahmadiyah from Cikeusik.”
“It is deeply troubling that police investigations into the brutal beating deaths of three people for their religious beliefs did not uncover who was behind the attacks,” Pearson says. “For justice to be complete, investigations should not stop at the 12 defendants, but include all those playing a role in this horrific attack.”
HRW also urged Indonesia’s Judicial Commission to monitor the trials of those charged, saying it “would acknowledge the importance of the case for the rights of religious minorities in Indonesia as well as concerns about the conduct of the proceedings.”
“Indonesia has often failed to successfully prosecute crimes targeting religious minorities, exacerbating a culture of violent persecution,” Pearson said. “The [Judicial] Commission should monitor these trials to strengthen justice in response to anti-Ahmadiyah attacks.”
Twelve people allegedly involved in the attacks face are defending a number of charges, including assault causing death, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in jail, but none have been charged with murder or manslaughter.
“Violence against the Ahmadiyah community and other religious minorities is common in Indonesia, yet the Indonesian government has failed to seriously address the problem,” Human Rights Watch says.
“Despite the high-profile nature of the case, the conduct of the trial so far has raised concerns that the religious beliefs of the victims might affect the outcome of the trials.”
HRW says an eight-minute video clip uploaded on YouTube shows one of the judges “berating” an Ahmadiyah witness, Deden Sujana, about his religion.
“Defense lawyers have asked inappropriate questions of some witnesses – such as probing Sujana’s religious faith — in an apparent effort to intimidate them, with no interference from the judges. Outside the courtroom, a defense lawyer told reporters that Sujana must be “bullied till he shits” [“digencet hingga mencret”], but has suffered no rebuke from the court.”
In a separate trial, the Serang District Court is hearing the case against Sujana for alleged involvement in provoking the attack. Prosecutors are seeking a six-year jail sentence.
[Court] is separately hearing a case against Sujana on allegations that he had a role in provoking the attack. Prosecutors have called for a six-year prison sentence on charges of incitement, disobeying police orders, and maltreatment (less serious assault). Human Rights Watch urged the Judiciary Commission to monitor Sujana’s trial along with the others.
“If Indonesia’s courts deal properly with these cases, it could go a long way toward protecting religious minorities in the country,” Pearson said. “The [Juticial] Commission should send representatives to monitor the trials to ensure justice is done for all parties involved.”