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UN envoy slams rights record

Action demanded from police and state

UN rights envoy Navanethem Pillay said minorities have become the main target in Indonesia UN rights envoy Navanethem Pillay said minorities have become the main target in Indonesia
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • November 14, 2012
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Visiting UN rights envoy Navanethem Pillay said she was “saddened” to hear of attacks and other abuses against minorities in an assessment that condemned police inaction.

Speaking in Jakarta yesterday at the end of a two-day visit, Pillay encouraged the government to abandon the blasphemy law, revise discriminatory legislation against the minority Muslim Ahmadiyah sect and to allow the building of places of worship.

“I was saddened to hear accounts of violent attacks, forced displacement, denial of citizen’s identity cards and other forms of discrimination and harassment against minorities,” she said in a press conference in Jakarta.

The UN rights envoy drew particular attention to Bogor, West Java where worshipers have been denied a permit for the building despite a Supreme Court ruling from Jakarta.

“I am concerned that the local authorities in Bogor are failing to enforce a decision of the Supreme Court to reopen the church,” said Pillay, adding that she had raised the case in a number of meetings with government officials.

Taman Yasmin Church is one of several in Indonesia denied building permits, which makes them illegal in theory and subject to persecution within communities where Christians are typically in the minority.

Bona Sigalingging, a spokesman for the Taman Yasmin Church, said religious freedom was under grave threat.

“The state must uphold the law and must have courage to act against the demands of intolerant groups,” he said.

Umni Kalsum, the wife of Shia cleric Tajul Muluk who was sentenced to four years in prison for blasphemy earlier this year, also called for the state to act in the wake of Pillay’s damning assessment of Indonesian religious rights.

“The government must pay serious attention to the problems we face,” she said.

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