Ahmadis accuse Indonesian district chief of persecution

Kuningan district head witholding ID cards if Ahmadiyya members refuse to make anti-sect oath, they say
Ahmadis accuse Indonesian district chief of persecution

Representatives of the Ahmadiyya community from Manislor, West Java file a complaint with the Ministry of Home Affairs on June 20 accusing their district head of discriminating against them. (Photo supplied by the Association of Journalists for Diversity)

Indonesia's Ahmadiyya community has accused authorities in West Java of deliberately trying to prevent them from obtaining electronic identity cards, a requirement for Indonesian citizens to get access to public services.

They said the Kuningan district head has decreed that they read out a "statement of compliance" — which in effect requires them to renounce their faith — before they can get an ID card. 

Part of the oath reads "I declare myself an adherent of Islam" and "willing to be re-educated." 

Representatives of 1,400 Ahmadis from Manislor, one of the biggest Ahmadiyya complexes in West Java, lodged an official complaint against the Kuningan district head with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ombudsman in Jakarta on June 20. 

Dessy Aries Sandy, an Ahmadiyya woman, said the phrase "willing to be re-educated" is pressuring Ahmadis to leave their faith.

"It seems to demand that we abandon our beliefs," Sandy told ucanews.com, saying she and many others had declined to read out the statement and were refused an ID card.

"Only Ahmadis are required to read out this statement," she said.

The Ahmadiyya sect, who believes Prophet Mohammed was not the last prophet, is not banned in Indonesia — where the majority are Sunni Muslims — but in 2005 the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa calling the group heretical.

In 2008, the government prohibited the dissemination of Ahmadiyya teachings.

As a result of not getting an ID card, Sandy said, the Ahmadis face difficulties in getting free health care, bank related services, registering marriages and other administrative matters.

Syamsul Alam Agus, chairman of rights group "Yayasan Satu Keadilan" which assists Ahmadis, said the Kuningan district head has violated the rights of Ahmadis as Indonesian citizens.

"Getting an ID card is an absolute and essential right as set out in the constitution," he said.

"This discriminative regulation must be revoked to guarantee equality before the law," he added.

Drajat Wisnu Setyawan, an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs who met the Ahmadis, said they would process the complaint.

"There should be no additional requirements to get ID cards," he said.

Ahmad Suaedy, an Ombudsman commissioner, said the issue has been brought up with the Kuningan district head.

The district head claimed he was under pressure from an un-named group that rejects the existence of Ahmadiyya, Suaedy said.

The Jakarta based rights group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace stated that although physical violence against Ahmadis has declined in recent years, persecution continues.

Two weeks ago, local authorities shut down an Ahmadiyya mosque in Depok, West Java.

In some areas, local governments have gone further by restricting the sect's ability to worship and turning a blind eye to acts of persecution.

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