Human rights activists said Monday they will be pushing President Joko Widodo to find a solution to the Ahmadiyya refugee situation during a planned meeting set to coincide with Human Rights Day on December 10. Rights groups say that hundreds of refugees forced to stay in a shelter in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, for the past eight years now, have had their basic rights violated. “We want the issue to be discussed in a special way with president so that he will pay intensive attention to it,” Budi Santoso, a member of the Ombudsman’s Report and Complaint Desk, told ucanews.com on Monday in his office in Jakarta after the launch of a report on the Ahmadiyya refugees’ situation. The 58-page report was written by the Joint Advocacy Team for Restoration of the Rights of Ahmadiyya Refugees in West Nusa Tenggara following a seven-month investigation. The team includes the Ombudsman as well as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), National Commission on Violence against Women, National Commission on Child Protection, and Witness and Victim Protection Agency. “We will call on the president to return them to their village,” Santoso said. At least 33 families, or 146 followers, of the Ahmadiyya sect have remained in the shelter since 2006, when they were evacuated from their village in West Lombok district because they were accused by hardline Islamists of having tainted Islam. “We are still staying in a refugee camp, which only has plywood and cloth as partitions. This is where we sleep, cook and do our daily activities,” Irma Nurmayanti, an Ahmadiyya refugee, told ucanews.com. In the report, the human rights monitors recommend that Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla should prioritize protection of freedom of religion. The Ahmadiyya refugees’ situation is indicative of poor implementation of religious freedom in the predominantly Muslim country, according to Jayadi Damanik from Komnas HAM. “The main cause is the low awareness of tolerance and also the weak implementation of law enforcement,” he told ucanews.com. Commenting on the activists’ remarks, Muhammad Yasin from the religious affairs ministry claimed that the government has taken efforts to raise awareness of tolerance. “The results cannot be seen yet,” he admitted. However, he promised that “we will find a solution to the issue”.
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