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Rights Watchdog Says Man Who Filmed Ahmadiyah Attack Under Protection
Ulma Haryanto | February 11, 2011
Police officers inspecting the damaged house of an Ahmadi after it was attacked by a Muslim mob in Pandeglang, Banten, on Sunday. The National Commission on Human Rights say the man who filmed the attack is under protection because of fears for his life. (AP Photo)
The Ahmadi who captured on film the deadly attack on an Ahmadiyah community in Banten is currently under protection because of fears his life may be in danger, the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said on Friday.
One of the commissioners, Ridha Saleh, said in a press conference that the man, identified only as A, is both under the protection of the commission known as Komnas HAM and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK).
“He was one of the victims, because he is an Ahmadi. That is why we put him under protection. We also ask the media to blur his face in future documentations because we believe he is going to be targeted,” Ridha said.
A is also being questioned by the National Police’s crime unit as a witness.
Yoseph Adi Suryo, another commission member, told the Jakarta Globe that A managed to save himself from being attacked by claiming to be a contributor for a media organization as he documented the event.
Nurkholis Hidayat, chairman of Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), said that A came to their office seeking protection two days ago.
“He provided us with the video evidence and his testimony of the incident. We believe his life is in danger and so we took him to Komnas HAM,” he said.
In the 30-minute video, only about 30 police officers can be seen guarding the home of Ahmadiyah cleric Ismail Suparman. They offer little resistance to a mob of about 1,500 people carrying bamboo planks and machetes, and are quickly overwhelmed.
The video shows police attempting to persuade the Ahmadi to leave the house, with one plain-clothed officer filmed warning the group that a mob was headed for the village.
The mob subsequently stormed the village. There were no police barricades erected to prevent clashes.
“Police get out. Burn these Ahmadiyah people!” one man shouted.
The mob immediately attacked the house with rocks and the people inside were forced to flee.
The footage also shows the mob swarming around two lifeless bodies covered in mud. The Ahmadiyah man said the pair were chased to a nearby rice field where they were killed with bamboo and stone strikes to their heads.
The crowd then dragged the bodies along the road. Others were filmed attacking the corpses.
Edited excerpts of the video have begun airing on local TV stations, but the most graphic violence has been left off the air, perhaps to avoid stirring up further religious hatred.
Choirul Anam, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Working Group, said the video showed how the police were inadequately equipped to face the lynch mob.
“There were two trucks [of police officers] but they all ran away when the mob came. Furthermore, the video also showed that it was not the 17 Ahmadis who caused the conflict, as several media reported,” he said.