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Amnesty slams government 'failure'

Rights watchdog says religious minorities need more protection

Saman Zia-Zarifi, director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific program Saman Zia-Zarifi, director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific program
  • Konradus Epa, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • April 7, 2011
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Amnesty International yesterday accused the Indonesian government of failing to address abuses committed against religious minorities.

The human rights watchdog said the government has failed to meet its obligation to protect people’s rights as mentioned in Indonesia’s 1945 constitutions and the international covenant on civil and political rights.

“The Indonesian government must do more to stop the rising number of cases of violence, intimidation, harassment and discrimination against religious minority groups,” said Saman Zia-Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director at a press conference in Jakarta yesterday.

He said the ministry of home affairs should have instructed provincial and district governments to implement measures protecting basic human rights, such as religious belief and freedom of expression, to prevent the stigmatization of religious minority groups.

Zarifi said he had met leaders from the Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, and Communion of Churches in Indonesia, to discuss the government’s failure in tackling religion-based violence.

Amnesty, he said, has also urged the Indonesian police to stay on alert to prevent church attacks such as in Temanggung and attacks on Ahmadiyah sect members from happening again.

Three sect members were killed during an attack by more than 1,000 mainstream Muslims on worshippers at a house in Banten, in central Java on February 6.

Two days later, in Temanggung, also in central Java, mobs ransacked three churches after a court jailed a Christian for five years for insulting Islam. The mobs had demanded the death penalty.

Human rights activists from different organizations also attended yesterday’s press conference.

Haris Azhar from the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, said there were 62 cases of violence against Ahmadis in the first three months of this year, and at least 20 cases occurred in the past month.

Ahmadis, unlike orthodox Muslims, do not believe Mohammed was the last prophet.

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