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Increasing attacks on religious groups demands central government action

The Indonesian government must do more to stop the rising number of incidents of violence, intimidation, harassment and discrimination against religious minorities, said a group of Indonesian and international human rights organizations today.

Amnesty International, along with KontraS, Imparsial, Elsam, Setara Institute, ICRP, HRWG, ANBTI, ILRC and Wahid Institute voiced their concern about the growing environment of discrimination and harassment against religious minorities, in particular the Ahmadiyya community.

KontraS has documented at least 62 incidents between January and March 2011 only against the Ahmadiyya community. According to data collected by HRWG, the pace of such attacks has increased sharply in 2011 compared with the previous two years. There are also concerns about continuing attacks against Christians.

A particularly alarming development was the involvement of the Indonesian military and police in intimidation and forced conversion of members of the beleaguered Ahmadiyya community. KontraS has documented at least 20 cases in March and early April 2011 where military and police have been involved in cases of intimidation, harassment and forced conversion.

Amnesty International shared the concerns raised by Indonesian human rights groups with the senior leadership of the Indonesian National Police on 5 April.

Amnesty International also met some of Indonesia’s largest mass religious organizations, including Muhamadiyyah, Nahdlatul Ulama, and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), an umbrella group for Protestant Churches.

Alarmed by the deteriorating situation, and in light of the positive meetings with police officials and religious leaders, the human rights groups issued the following recommendations:

-- The central government must fulfill its obligation to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, benefit from the human rights enshrined in the 1945 Indonesian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2005 as provided by Law No. 12/2005;

-- The central government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, should immediately assert its exclusive authority to regulate religious affairs under the 2004 Law on Regional Autonomy and ensure that any regulations issued at the provincial as well as at the district level are in compliance with human rights protections as provided in the 1945 Indonesian Constitution and Indonesia’s obligations under international law, in particular the ICCPR;

-- The Joint Ministerial Decree of 2008, which placed significant restrictions on the activities of the Ahmadiyya religious community, has served to foster a climate conducive to violence and vigilanteism, and should be immediately repealed;

-- The Indonesian police should restate publicly its commitment to protecting the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious beliefs and put in place a proactive strategy for preventing and addressing incidents of religiously based violence. The groups welcomed the efforts to address the incidents in Cikeusik and Temanggung and look to the government and police to ensure that the trials proceed without intimidation of the victims, witnesses and their lawyers. The police should also ensure they register and investigate all cases of religious-based violence, regardless of the religious background of the victim.

-- Central and local government officials should emphasize the basic protections for religious belief, expression, and association included in the 1945 Indonesian Constitution and international law and refrain from making comments stigmatizing religious minorities, which has created a climate fostering discrimination and violence.

Jakarta, 6 April 2011

Amnesty Internasional, KontraS, Imparsial, Elsam, Setara Institute, ICRP, HRWG, ANBTI, ILRC dan Wahid Institute