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Groups urge govt to stop intolerance, enforce law
The Jakarta Post
Human rights activists called on the government Monday to cease the blockade of an Ahmadi orphanage in Tasikmalaya and protect people’s constitutional right to worship, while another group condemned an attack on a church in Bogor.
On Dec. 7, Tasikmalaya district prosecutors summoned the leader of Ahmadiyah’s Tasikmalaya branch and banned all religious activity inside the Ahmadiyah orphanage in Kawalu district of Tasikmalaya, West Java, citing public protests.
A day later, prosecutors and police sealed off the orphanage, locking 10 children inside.
“The police, prosecutors and local administration must reopen [the orphanage] immediately. It’s their home and they are only children who want to go to school and play,” Muhammad Isnur from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) said.
“The children, aged between 12 to 18 years old, have to climb the fence to get to the school located 2 kilometers from the home,” Budi Badrussalam, who lives close to the orphanage, said at the press conference held by the Coalition for Indonesian Children Advocacy on Monday.
Budi said the children stayed inside the orphanage and were looked after by a caretaker. “They have no choice,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Budi, who is also an Ahmadi, said the orphanage received threats this year from people claiming to be from the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islam Defender Troops (LPI).
One of the children, Sofwatur Rohman, said officials tried to expel the children on the same day that the orphanage was sealed off. “We choose to stay inside and they put a padlock on the gate after telling us they did it because the place was used for worship,” he said.
Rohman said neighbors sometimes checked on them and brought food for the locked-up children.
Children rights advocate from the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), Seto Mulyadi, criticized the government for not protecting the children. “Children are supposed to be protected and should not be involved in any conflict, especially religious ones,” he said.
Nia Sjarifuddin from the Unity and Diversity National Alliance (ANBTI) condemned the government, including the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry, the National Education Ministry, Home Ministry and the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) for allowing the children to become victims of religious intolerance.
In another criticism of religious intolerance, the Wahid Institute slammed the government for condoning discrimination against the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in Taman Yasmin, Bogor. The government sealed off the under-construction church and stopped the congregation from worshipping and conducting Christmas service.
“The Bogor administration once again violated our rights by ordering us not to observe Christmas this year,” Bona Sigalingging from the church told the Post.
The congregation has been on the receiving end of discriminatory treatment by the local government since March when officials forced them to stop the church construction and later sealed off the site.
Bona said the church had all requisite permits.
“Stop the discrimination. They have the right to worship in peace,” M. Subhi Azhari from the Wahid Institute said. “The central government must act immediately to protect their rights to worship.” (ipa)