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July 14, 2010
Cops Asked To Take a Hard Line With FPI
The National Police should no longer tolerate religious hard-liners such as the Islamic Defenders Front, which are using violence and intimidation under the guise of piety, a number of rights groups — including Muslim organizations — said on Wednesday.
“We are worried about several recent incidents and the fact that the police have not done anything to stop the violence and uphold the law, no matter which group is involved,” said Usman Hamid, a coordinator from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), who was among those meeting National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri at his office to air their concerns.
Rumadi, a program coordinator from the Wahid Institute, another rights group taking part in the talks, said Bambang gave his personal guarantee that the police would crack down on violence committed by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). “It was a positive meeting,” he said.
Aside from Kontras and the Wahid Institute, activists also present at the meeting included those from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), Arus Pelangi, Imparsial, Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI), Setara Institute and Jamaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia.
Usman said the FPI not only attacked people of other faiths but also human rights activists and those with unorthodox sexual orientations. “This can no longer be tolerated,” he said.
The activist groups, he said, had agreed the FPI had caused social instability and undermined the authority of the state, and that the police should move to uphold the law.
But the police have denied accusations that they have not done enough to prevent hard-line groups, including the FPI, from conducting illegal raids to intimidate others, such as a sweep on a meeting hosted by lawmakers in Banyuwangi, East Java, last month.
The June 24 meeting, called by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislators Ribka Tjiptaning Proletariati and Rieke Dyah Ayu Pitaloka, was broken up by as many as 15 members of the Islamic People’s Forum because they believed it to be a communist meeting. The FPI is said to have incited the raid.
The incident was reported to the police and has led to numerous calls from civil society and political organizations to disband hard-line groups.
Usman said Bambang had vowed to take action against the Banyuwangi Police chief for his lack of action over the incident, although he would discuss the issue with the legislators first.
Maman Imanulhaq, an Islamic scholar from Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s biggest Muslim organization, went as far as saying Bambang should dismiss local police chiefs who allowed hard-liners to use violence and intimidation tactics.
I Wayan Sudirta, a member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) from Bali, said the activists hoped the meeting did not produce more rhetoric.
“We need concrete action, not just promises,” he said.