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Activists call for end to sectarian violence in Indonesia

Publication Date : 13-05-2014


 Members of the Yogyakarta Anti Violence Community (Makaryo) in Indonesia have called on law enforcers in Gunungkidul regency, Yogyakarta, to prosecute perpetrators of sectarian violence in the region.

“We ask the administration of Gunungkidul regency to pay serious attention to this problem,” Makaryo spokesperson Hafizen told a press conference at the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute’s (LBH) office on Monday.

Hafizen said Makaryo had recorded 18 unresolved cases of sectarian violence in the province. The latest incident occurred on May 2, when members of the Islamic Jihad Front (FJI) allegedly assaulted the chairman of Gunungkidul Interfaith Forum, Aminuddin Azis.

Aminuddin was beaten and his car was damaged while he was stopped at traffic lights in front of the Gunungkidul legislative council building in the regional capital of Wonosari.

FJI members allegedly pursued Aminuddin, forcing him to seek shelter at the Gunungkidul police headquarters. “The police did nothing even when they threatened to behead me,” said Aminuddin, who is also secretary of the Yogyakarta branch of Anshor, Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) youth wing.

He claimed he was attacked because of his statement quoted on online media regarding his concerns about the FJI damaging and forcing the closure of the Kemah Injili Indonesia church in Widoro, Gunungkidul, on March 30 and April 6.

The FJI allegedly also distributed pamphlets protesting a joint celebration, the Adi Yuswo Easter celebration, scheduled for May 31, in Gunungkidul, which is expected to involve some 13,000 worshippers.

Gusdurian Indonesia coordinator Alissa Wahid said that instances of sectarian violence in the country were not isolated events as they occurred in almost every part of Indonesia. “This is a social-change phenomenon that needs to be responded to as soon as possible,” said Allisa, who is a daughter of former Indonesian president, the late Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid.

She expressed the hope that the police would take stern measures against the perpetrators. Otherwise, she said, Indonesia could turn out like Afghanistan or Pakistan: full of intolerant groups, which could later lead to continuous intercommunal violence.

Separately, Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Yogyakarta) director Samsudin Nurseha asked Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X to address the increasing sectarian violence in the province. “The Sultan’s role has been somewhat minimal so far,” Samsudin said.

Gunungkidul Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Farid Zulkarnain said the police had not yet arrested those responsible for the attack on Aminuddin and they were still looking for witnesses. “If we cannot find witnesses then we will seek other clues such as video records,” Farid said.

He also denied accusations that the police had escorted the FJI while they closed the church in Widoro. He said the police were trying to mediate between the church and the FJI.

Meanwhile FJI commander Abdurrahman denied any knowledge of the attack on Aminuddin or the damage to his car. But he confirmed that his people did force the closure of the church in Widoro.

Previously, based on an FJI request, the Yogyakarta branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) asked police to disband Shia-related organisations in the province.


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