ASIA/INDONESIA - Serious concerns about respect for human rights and religious minorities

Monday, 7 May 2012

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - In Indonesia there are "serious concerns" for respect of human rights and religious minorities: this is what is said a note by the NGO "Human Rights Watch" (HRW), published today, sent to Fides. "Indonesia has made progress in recent years to consolidate a stable and democratic government, with a civil society and independent media," the text says, "but officials of the state, while often speaking of human rights protection, seem unwilling to take the necessary measures to ensure compliance with human rights on behalf of security forces and appropriately penalize those responsible for serious violations."
The government – the HRW says - continues to use the laws on treason, blasphemy and defamation to restrict the right to free expression. The police arbitrarily arrest activists, journalists and government critics, while in areas such as Papua and Maluku pro-independence activists were put on trial and sentenced to long prison terms. In Indonesia, about 100 activists in jail Maluku and Papua, for "rebellion" for peacefully expressing political views or for having organized public events.
Since 2011, the note continues, "the Indonesian authorities have not adequately addressed the growing incidents of mass violence by militant Islamic groups against religious minorities in Java and Sumatra," citing abuses against Christians, Shiite Muslims, Ahmadis. "The militants, encouraged by the government, which has limited the construction of places of worship, have led authorities to close hundreds of local Christian churches and dozens of Ahmadiyya mosques in recent years," the report says. HRW calls on the Indonesian government and the international community to focus on cases of political prisoners and the increasing violence against religious minorities, calling in particular the European Union to deal with these issues in its next human rights dialogue with the Indonesian Government.
The European Union, recommends the Human Rights Watch, should urge the Indonesian government to immediately release all political prisoners, to repeal laws that criminalize peaceful expression of ideas. On religious minorities, the EU, according to the HRW, should ask the revocation of the decrees of 1969 and 2006, which block the construction of places of worship and that are used to discriminate religious minorities; to take all necessary measures to stop violence and discrimination against religious minorities; to accept the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/05/2012)