June 2011


Doctrine divides, Action unites

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Court Verdict Encourages Further Attacks
against Religious Minorities in Indonesia

Asian Human Rights Commission


While defendants in the court case of the Feb. 6 attack on members
of the Ahmadiyyah community that took the lives of three people
and injured five others in Indonesia were smiling at the three- to
six-month prison term, the victims and their families and other
observers inside and outside of the country did not feel that
justice had been rendered. (Photo by www.thepersecution.org)

Three to six months in prison was the shocking sentence given on July 28 to the perpetrators of the mob killing of three Ahmadis earlier this year. The remaining perpetrators will be released on the reading of the verdict on Aug. 23 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 need not worry about the law and constitutional protection of minorities.

“The verdict and trial conduct does not meet national or international standards,” said Wong Kai-shing, executive director of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in Hong Kong. “The lenient punishment will encourage more extremist action against religious minorities,” he added. “The courts failed to enforce Indonesian law for the protection of their citizens.”

On April 28, 2011, the Serang District Court in West Java convicted 12 suspects for maltreatment, joint assault and incitement in the horrendous Cikeusik killing in February this year. A mob set upon the Ahmadiyyah followers in the village of Umbulan in Cikeusik Subdistrict in Banten Province’s Pandeglang District, resulting in three members being killed and five members injured. At least one patrol car from the Cikeusik sector police and two trucks from the riot-control force, or Dalmas, of the Pandeglang District police were present and watched the violence, doing nothing though to prevent it or to apprehend the perpetrators. The shocking scenes were recorded in a video online that sparked an international outcry.

The Indonesian Ahmadiyyah congregation (JAI) commented that the verdict does not fulfill the sense of fairness. According to A. Mubarik Ahmad, a JAI public relations spokesman, this crime must be seen as a crime against humanity, not just a crime against the Ahmadiyyah. The Indonesian criminal code has never regulated crimes against the Ahmadiyyah. Moreover, he said that the State still cannot find the murderer of the victims because the trial did not charge the suspect with murder. Thus, there is no examination and trial for the murderer.

In 1980 and 2005, the Indonesian Ulama Assembly (Majelis Ulama Indonesia) issued a fatwa against the Ahmadiyyah community in Indonesia denouncing Ahmadiyyah
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 Ahmadiyyah communities and their members have been documented by the Setara Institute and Wahid Institute over the last several years.

AHRC is concerned that the lenient punishment for a mob killing against a religious minority that has faced discrimination for a long time will encourage more fundamentalist violence. Institutions have failed in this case to send a strong message against extremism. AHRC believes that law and constitutional values were not the basis for the judgment in this legal case.

See also the following:
INDONESIA: Rule by Violence
INDONESIA: Ahmadiyyah Community Faces Ongoing Discrimination

* The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is a regional non-governmental organization monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. More information is available on AHRC’s web site at <http://www.ahrchk.net/index.php>.