“The Indonesian government still has not accomplished its promise to deal with the prolonged problems related to the persecution of minorities. I just heard that the Ahmadis in Lombok continue to be dismissed from their homes. This is not the direction Amnesty is hoping for. This country is going in the wrong direction,” Saman Zia-Zarifi, the Asia-Pacific director of Amnesty said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
“We are here to call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to fulfill his responsibility to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, benefit from the human rights enshrined in the 1945 Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2005,” he added.
London-based Amnesty was delivering a joint statement along with a number of Indonesian human rights groups, namely the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Imparsial, Elsam, the Wahid Institute, the Setara Institute and the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika National Alliance (ANBTI).
Zia-Zarifi cited documentation collected by local NGOs showing that attacks against Ahmadiyah communities across the country had increased sharply in 2011 compared to the previous two years.
A particularly alarming development was the involvement of the Indonesian Military and police officers in intimidating and forcing the conversion of Ahmadis in villages in West Java in the last two months.
“Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries and becomes a model for international communities. However, the central government’s inability or lack of desire to address this issue is potentially catastrophic,” Zia-Zarifi said.
During his short visit to Jakarta, Zia-Zarifi met with National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Nanan Soekarna and visited Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, and the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) a few days earlier.
“We had very open discussions and we share similar concerns that attacks and violence cannot be justified,” he said.
Zia-Zarifi also said the 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree forbidding Ahmadis from propagating their beliefs could justify vigilantism and lead to increasing violence.
“Regulations like this, especially if they are implemented differently by administrations at regional and district levels, could instead provide green lights to extremist forces to attack religious communities targeted by the regulations,” he said.
According to the coalition, there are already 20 regional regulations and decrees banning followers of Ahmadiyah from practicing their religion publicly.
Last month, 27 US congressmen signed a letter to President Yudhoyono to revoke “prosecuting” bylaws.
Bonar Tigor Naipospos from Setara said Yudhoyono’s reluctance to address the issue was linked to his party’s political preparation ahead of the 2014 elections.
“Yudhoyono will not contest again and his charismatic figure will no longer help the Democratic Party gain an enormous amount of votes. That is why the party’s politicians really take what radicals want into account because they are wary about losing votes from hardline Muslim communities,” he said.
On Tuesday evening, five houses belonging to Ahmadiyah followers in Ciaruteun Udik village in Bogor, were severely damaged due to a series of mob attacks. Those attacks were the third in the last two month.