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Scattered sect followers seeking UN protection
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram
Fearing further persecution, some 190 followers of Jamaah Ahmadiyah in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, urged the UN Human Rights Commission pay attention to their endangered condition that has followed a recommendation to dissolve the sect.
“We are asking the international human rights agencies to interfere with human rights abuses in Indonesia, especially in the case of Ahmadiyah followers,” Syaiful Uyun, chairman of the sect’s advisory council in the city, said Thursday.
The followers were responding to a recommendation of the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem), who found the sect “deviant.”
After a three-month examination, the joint board, representing all denominations in the country, recommended the government ban the “misleading” Islamic sect. The recommendation was based on the examination of the 12 points of Islamic teachings, including the acceptance of Qoran and Prophet Muhammad as last prophet.
We are under threat of persecution following the recommendation, which the government will certainly accept, Syaiful said.
“We fear intensified persecution. During the developmental period when the sect was not banned, we were tortured and displaced from our villages. The widely exposed recommendation will likely incite certain groups against us,” he said.
The Ahmadiyah followers were temporarily intercepted at the city’s transmigration building and Praya General Hospital after their houses in Ketapang were torn down, forcing them to leave their village.
The Ahmadiyah followers cried out against the recommendation, which they said was against international human rights and the 1945 Constitution guaranteeing the freedom of religion.
Syaiful defended his organization, which was registered with the Justice and Human Rights Affairs Ministry on March 13, 1953. He warned the government that dissolving the sect was against human rights and the constitution.
“Only the court has authority to dismiss the organization,” he said.
The sect is expected to be banned by a joint ministerial decree as it breaches the constitution. Syaiful said his organization would file a lawsuit to the State Administrative Court against the ban.
Separately, Jamaah Ahmadiyah spokesman Zafrullah Ahmad Pontoh said the group would take legal action against the decision.
“We have the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) and the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) as our representatives. The government cannot force us to close Ahmadiyah,” he told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta, adding the group had not received the recommended ban.
“We will not take any step until we receive an official ban from the board. We will take every legal effort,” Pontoh said.
During the group’s development around the globe, Pontoh said, Afghanistan was the only country to reject it.
“Look what happened to Afghanistan. As an Indonesian, I don’t want to see my country suffer the same conditions as it does,” he said, adding that Ahmadiyah internal activities were not affected by the recommendation.
“We did not panic in dealing with the case. Ahmadiyah is a spiritual group and we only do religious activities, like reading the Koran, praying five times and teaching kids to read the Koran. We aim to facilitate religious people,” he said.
Some other Muslims, however, frown upon the sect, which has even become the target of violence by hard-liner group Islam Defenders’ Front (FPI).
“Some people claiming to be ‘Muslim’ took down our sign board,” Pontoh said. (trw)