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U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 11, 2008
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, weak legal institutions, limited resources, and insufficient political will prevented accountability for serious abuses that occurred in the past. Problems during the year included: killings by security forces; vigilantism; harsh prison conditions; impunity for prison authorities; arbitrary detentions; corruption in the judicial system; some limitations on free speech and on peaceful assembly; interference with freedom of religion, sometimes with the complicity of local officials; intimidation of human rights groups by security forces; serious instances of violence and sexual abuse against women and children; trafficking in persons; forced labor; and failure to enforce labor standards and worker rights.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The constitution provides for “all persons the right to worship according to his or her own religion or belief” and states that “the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God.” The government generally respected the former provision. Six faiths –Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism–received official recognition in the form of representation at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.…
As in previous years, some political parties advocated amending the constitution to adopt Shari’a on a nationwide basis, but most parliamentarians and the country’s largest Muslim social organizations remained opposed to the proposal. There were no attempts by the national parliament or local legislatures to amend the constitution to adopt Shari’a laws. However, some local governments issued Shari’a-based local laws. Some human rights groups argued that these laws were illegal, since the country’s regional autonomy law prohibits local laws from dealing with religion. Others argued that the Shari’a-based laws violated constitutional provisions that proscribe religiously based laws. Central government authorities have not challenged the issuance of such local regulations.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Until mid-December there had been significantly fewer attacks against the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect, considered heretical by many mainstream Muslims, than in the previous year. However, on December 18, a mob attacked a housing complex belonging to the Ahmadiyah in Kuningan, West Java, damaging 14 houses and two small mosques. The violence then spread to other locations in West Java including Manis Lor village, Kuningan Regency, and Sukajaya village, Tasikmalaya Regency. Moreover, the Ahmadiyah continued to face societal discrimination, and the government has done little to pursue accountability or to punish perpetrators of past attacks. In the wake of the December violence, the vice president ordered that the police “get tough” on Muslims who attack members of “deviant” Islamic sects.
On February 2, dozens of Ahmadiyah members came to the West Nusa Tenggara governor’s office to demand that they be returned to their village of Gegerungan, Ketapang, West Lombok, after living over a year at a displaced persons camp in Mataram. In February 2006 between 500 and 1,000 local residents attacked an Ahmadiyah housing complex and forced 187 Ahmadiyah members from 25 homes. Conditions had deteriorated since the West Lombok Regency stopped supplying food and health services to the camp in January. At year’s end more than 130 of the Ahmadiyah members remained at the Mataram camp.
In April the West Nusa Tenggara Chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) asked the West Nusa Tenggara governor to issue a ban on the Ahmadiyah because of the group’s deviation from Islam.
At year’s end the Ahmadiyah compound in Bogor, West Java, which was attacked and damaged in 2005, remained sealed, although Ahmadiyah members were able to use the office facilities. In his statement on the December violence, the vice president also said that “all seals locking the Ahmadiyah’s places of worship have to be removed.”
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2007 International Religious Freedom Report.