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INDONESIA: Courts verdict encourages further attacks against religious minorities
July 29, 2011
(Hong Kong, July 29, 2011) Three to six months in prison was the shocking sentence given to the perpetrators of the mob killing of three Ahmadiyahs earlier this year. The remaining perpetrators will be released on the reading of the verdict on 23 August this year. Most of them will be released during the coming weeks. This lenient punishment and the conduct of the judges in the trial sends a clear signal to religious fundamentalists that they not need to worry about the law and constitutional protection of minorities.
“The verdict and trial conduct does not meet national or international standards” Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission said. “The lenient punishment will encourage more extremist action against religious minorities” Wong added,” the courts failed to enforce Indonesian law for the protection of citizens.”
On 28 April 2011 the Serang District Court in West Java convicted twelve suspects for maltreatment, joint assault and incitement in the horrendous Cikeusik killing from February this year. A mob set against the discriminated religious minority of Ahmadiyah followers attacked the group in Umbulan village, Cikeusik resulting in five members being injured and three killed. At least one patrol car from Cikeusik sector police and 2 trucks from riot-control force (Dalmas) of Pandeglang dictrict police men were present and watched the violence, doing nothing to prevent it or apprehend the perpetrators. The shocking scenes were published in a video online sparking international outcry.
The Indonesian Ahmadiyah congregation (JAI) commented that the verdict does not fulfil the sense of fairness. According to A. Mubarik Ahmad, the public relation of JAI, this crime must be seen as crimes against humanity, not just a crime against the Ahmadiyah. The Indonesian criminal code never regulated the crimes against Ahmadiyah. Moreover, he stated that the state still cannot find the murderer of the victims, because the trial did not charged the suspect with murder charge, thus there is no examination and trial for the murderer.
In 1980 and 2005, Indonesian Ulama Assembly (Majelis Ulama Indonesia) issued a fatwa against the Ahmadiyah community in Indonesia denouncing Ahmadyah followers as an errant sect. In 2008 a joint ministerial decree banned the group for promulgating its religion and other basic religious rights. The decree is widely believed to be responsible for encouraging attacks against Ahmadis. Numerous attacks against Ahmadiyah communities and their members were documented by the Setara Institute and Wahid Institute over the last years.
The AHRC is concerned that the lenient punishment for a mob killing against the minority group will encourage more fundamentalist violence. Institutions have failed in this case to send a strong message against extremism. The AHRC believes that law and constitutional values were not the basis for the judgement in this case.