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Police 'must stay independent'

Firing police chief not enough after stoning attack, activists say

Police 'must stay independent'
Activists discuss how the police should handle violence
Konradus Epa, Jakarta

March 2, 2011

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Human rights activists are urging Indonesian police to work professionally, independently and fairly in dealing with religious issues following a deadly attack on Ahmadiyah sect members in West Java last month. Representatives from the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), and the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) called in a statement for authorities to "stop victimization” and “stop any notions of ritual impunity by bringing the masterminds of these attacks to justice.” More than 1,000 Muslims beat and stoned to death three Ahmadiyah sect members during an attack on a house in Banten on February 6. The attack on the place of worship was organized and systematic, the activists said. Sacking regional police commander Brigadier-General Agus Kusnadi following the attack wasn’t enough, said Haris Azhar from KontraS. “Kusnadi must also be questioned, and the perpetrators caught and sentenced,” he asserted. Those who incite violence must also be brought to book, Khairul Anam from the HRWG added. The incident is a major concern since it was triggered by a fatwa (an Islamic ruling) issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), he continued. In 2005, the MUI, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, declared the Ahmadiyah sect heretics, prompting the government in 2008 to ban the sect’s teachings. The sect was founded by Mirza Ghulam in the late 1800s in what is now the Punjab area of India and Pakistan. Followers believe Ghulam was the final Muslim prophet. Orthodox Muslims believe Mohammed was Islam’s last prophet. “Police should not be influenced by the fatwa, which is very subjective and discriminatory,” Anam said. Erna Ratnaningsih from YLBHI accused the police of failing to work professionally which has encouraged religious violence. It is vital for us to “continue monitoring the police’s work,” she said. IJ13477.1643

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