The tomb of the late Prince Djatikusumah and Queen Emalia Wigarningsih, revered leaders of Sunda Wiwitan, an indigenous Indonesian religion. (Photo supplied)
Followers of Sunda Wiwitan, an indigenous faith group in Indonesia’s West Java province, have accused authorities of bowing to pressure from hardline Muslim groups who forced the closure of one of their most sacred sites.The Kuningan district Public Order Agency last week sealed off the tomb of two Sunda Wiwitan leaders — Prince Djatikusumah and Queen Emalia Wigarningsih, who died last year and were buried at the site in the village of Cisantana.Group members were also prohibited from praying at the tomb. "The entire site was closed,” Okky Satrio Djati, a Sunda Wiwitan spokesman, told UCA News on July 25.Sunda Wiwitan has about 100,000 followers across West Java and Banten provinces who venerate the power of nature and the spirit of their ancestors.
Djati said it was unbelievable that authorities bowed to pressure from conservative groups who had protested and ordered the tomb to be removed.The tomb has giant stones indicating Sunda Wiwitan’s closeness to nature and was meant to be a shrine for followers to pray at.
Local authorities saw it as a monument that required a government permit. Under Indonesian law, religious sites require such a permit.Djati said the community was in the process of getting one but intolerant groups saw this as an opportunity to pressure the government to not grant a permit and tear the shrine down.
He said they filed a request for a building permit on July 1 but were rejected on July 14.
He also said that a lack of a political will by many local governments has had a dire effect on religious freedom.
“They have become the main barrier to religious freedom because they cave in to public pressure too easily,” he told UCA News.
Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said the government must respect diversity and the rights of religious minorities.“We urge the local government to reopen the site because it discriminates against the community and violates the law,” Hamid said.