Friday, March 01, 2013

Escalating Violence Against Religious Minorities In Indonesia

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), violence against religious minorities in so-called 'moderate' Indonesia is escalating, and it's not just focused on Christians. Shia and Ahmadiyah Muslims are equally targeted by an increasingly militant cadre of  Sunni Muslim thugs.

HRW blames an impotent government- headed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono- that does nothing to protect its religious minority population. This inaction only serves to embolden the militants.

Brad Adams, the Asia director of HRW, said:

“The Indonesian government’s failure to take decisive action to protect religious minorities from threats and violence is undermining its claims to being a rights-respecting democracy." “National leadership is essential. Yudhoyono needs to insist that national laws be enforced, announce that every violent attack will be prosecuted, and map out a comprehensive strategy to combat rising religious intolerance.”

Apparently the victims are often blamed, and those responsible for the violence, more often than not, get off scott-free. The police rarely defend the victims, and in some cases join in.  Even members of the government have been complicit in inciting violence against religious minorities, with no censure from Yudhoyono.
Yudhoyono has failed to use powers at his disposal to defend religious minority communities and has not effectively disciplined cabinet members when they have encouraged abuses, Human Rights Watch said. Ali [the minister of religion, Suryadharma Ali] made discriminatory remarks about the Ahmadiyah and Shia in a March 2011 speech at a political convention, claiming: “We have to ban the Ahmadiyah. It is obvious that Ahmadiyah is against Islam.”In September 2012, he proposed that Shia convert to Sunni Islam. Ali was not sanctioned for either comment.
“The government has shown a deadly indifference to the growing plight of Indonesia’s religious minorities, who reasonably expect their government’s protection,” Adams said.

Read the rest of HRW's article on the rising persecution and violence against religious minorities.

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