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Tasikmalaya Mayor Claims Ahmadiyah Orphanage Locked at Public’s Request
JG & Antara | December 28, 2010
The Khasanah Kautsar orphanage in Tasikmalaya, West Java, was sealed off by the government on Dec. 18. Tasikmalaya Mayor Syarif Hidayat said the lock-up was at the public's request. (JG Photo/Nivell Rayda)
Jakarta. The municipal government of Tasikmalaya, West Java, is reluctant to reopen an Ahmadiyah orphanage that has been kept shut for weeks by law enforcement.
“We will keep it under lock and key because it is the public’s request,” Syarif Hidayat, the mayor of Tasikmalaya, told state news agency Antara.
The Khasanah Kautsar Orphanage, which is operated by the minority Ahmadiyah community in Kawalu subdistrict in Tasikmalaya, West Java, was locked up, with the children and staff still inside, by the subdistrict police chief and prosecutor on Dec. 18.
Officials argued that the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) would otherwise have come to close it down.
Mayor Syarif said the decision attempted to maintain peace and order because the Tasikmalaya public resented the activities of the Ahmadiyah congregation.
“It depends on them [the congregation] whether they acknowledge Ahmadiyah as an organization or as a religion. If they say it’s a religion, of course the public will disagree,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tasikmalaya’s Ahmadiyah leader, Ion Sofyan, said the lock-up had made it difficult for them to do daily activities because they had to climb a three-meter wall every day for school or supplies.
On Monday, 12 rights groups called on the government to reopen the orphanage as it was a violation of the children’s rights.
Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), said children should not be dragged into adult conflicts.
“The locking up of the children inside the orphanage has taken away the right of the children to have a comfortable place to live, to get an education and also to have the freedom of religion or belief,” he said.
Seto said he would meet with the head of the FPI, Rizieq Shihab, and the leader of the FPI’s Tasikmalaya chapter to find a solution that will spare the children.