Rights groups to highlight religious prosecution
Representatives from human rights groups say they will urge the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to issue recommendations forcing the Indonesian government to guarantee the rights of religious minority groups.
“We will specifically address the increasing violence against religious minorities so that the UN’s human rights body can decide on concrete recommendations for the Indonesian government,” Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) executive director Rafendi Djamin told The Jakarta Post from Geneva.
Rafendi added that the NGO delegation would also highlight the murder of rights activist Munir Said Thalib to add urgency to the need to abolish impunity.
The Indonesian delegation to the UNHRC’s quadrennial Universal Periodic Review comprises government officials, representatives from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the National Commission on the Protection from Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and the National Commission on Child Protection (KPAI), as well as members of a number of rights groups, including the HRWG and the LGBT rights group Arus Pelangi.
Rafendi said that the HRWG and other civil society organizations had also prepared a damning assessment of human rights in the country.
In a 17-page summary report prepared for the UNHRC summit, 32 rights groups concluded that “in the past four years, there have been a series of retrograde steps in the implementation of state obligations to respect, fulfill and protect human rights, mainly in the freedom of religion, the protection of migrant workers and corporate responsibility in respecting human rights”.
The report further says that freedom of religion has suffered a significant setback, as reflected in the attacks on Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Banten, and the constant harassment of the GKI Yasmin congregation in Bogor, West Java.
“The situation for religious minorities has significantly worsened since 2008,” the report says, citing Human Rights Watch (HRW) data on the increasing attacks on minority religious groups nationwide from 135 incidents in 2007 to 216 in 2010 and 184 attacks in the first few months of 2011.
The report adds 30 cases, including the recent closure of 17 churches in Aceh, recorded by the HRWG between Jan. 1 and May 7 this year.
The report also highlights violence against women, children, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as internally displaced persons.
The Indonesian government had also issued 207 regulations deemed discriminatory toward some members of society as of August last year. The regulations include the 2008 Pornography Law, a decree on female circumcision issued by the Health Ministry in 2010 and more than 200 ordinances issued by local governments, the report says.
In the report civil society organizations also urge the UNHRC to recommend that the Indonesian government resolve past gross human rights violations including the anti-Chinese riots of 1998, the Semanggi shootings and the Wasior and Wamena massacres in Papua.
Separately, the human rights watchdog Setara Institute said that the government must resolve past human rights abuses or it would be found guilty by omission by the international community.
“The government is committing violations of human rights if it allows so many perpetrators to walk freely. Therefore, it must soon take action to bring those criminals to justice to prove to the international community that we respect human rights in this country,” Setara Institute chairman Hendardi said.
Margareth S. Aritonang