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Human rights commission wants Ahmadiyah protected
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram
The National Commission on Human Rights has asked the government to guarantee the security of Ahmadiyah followers to ensure members of the religious sect can live in peace and worship freely.
Commissioner for individual freedoms Chandra Setiawan said in Mataram on Friday the government should abide by a 2005 law ratifying the International Convention on Civilian and Political Rights.
“In order to provide security assurance for Ahmadiyah members in Indonesia, we have written to the President (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and the National Police chief (Sutanto). The letter is intended to ensure that Ahmadiyah members can perform their daily rituals again and that their children can go to school,” Chandra said.
He said the July 27-dated letter asked the government and the police to ensure the security of Ahmadiyah members in several areas in West Nusa Tenggara.
“Soon, we will send another letter on the types of human rights violations experienced by Ahmadiyah members,” he said.
Chandra said after ratifying the international convention into law, the government was obliged to protect people’s freedom to worship.
He said the groups that drove Ahmadiyah members out of their hometowns in Ketapang hamlet in West Lombok and Praya in Central Lombok, had violated sect members’ human rights.
“If there’s a resident who objects to Ahmadiyah members’ presence or actions then they should report the matter to the police and let the court determine whether what the group does is right or wrong. We have the Criminal Code that regulates the matter,” he said.
The Ahmadiyah faith developed out of Islam in India in the late 19th Century. Its members believe that the prophet Mizra Ghulam Ahmad is God’s last messenger after Muhammad.
Groups in Indonesia have been the subject of attacks by Muslim groups after the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) outlawed the faith in a fatwa earlier this year.
Fifty-five Ahmadiyah members from 18 families were forced out of their hometown in Praya, Central Lombok and are now camping in the grounds of a Praya hospital. Meanwhile, in Mataram, 133 Ahmadiyah members who were driven out of their houses in Ketapang are still sheltering in a Transito building. The houses of the two groups were vandalized and some were set on fire.
Following the February attacks, President Yudhoyono said the state “guarantees the freedom of each citizen to hold and practice their own religion”. He said the government did not differentiate between religious groups or categorize them as “recognized or unrecognized”.
Last month, the Transito group’s leader, Zainal Abidin, said the followers wanted to go home after living the shelter for six months. He also complained that children from the group were being singled out for discrimination at their new school.
Members of Ahmadiyah late last month conveyed their grievances to the Australian Consulate General in Denpasar and said they intended to seek asylum in the country. The group’s legal advisers also said they would seek similar protections from Japanese, Canadian and German missions.
MUI responded by calling the group’s meetings a “publicity stunt”. Its clerics said the group would never be accepted by mainstream Muslims.