The verdicts imposed against 12 people accused of killing three members of the Ahmadi community in Indonesia, show that religious minorities face ongoing discrimination, Amnesty International said today.
Earlier today, a court in Serang District, Banten sentenced 10 men and two boys to three to six months’ imprisonment for their involvement in the killing of three Ahmadis.
Three members of the Ahmadiyya community were beaten to death on 6 February this year when a 1,000 strong mob wielding rocks, machetes, swords and spears stormed the house of an Ahmadi leader in Cikeusik, Banten.
“The attacks in Cikeusik sent a frightening signal to religious minorities in Indonesia,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “These verdicts do not indicate that the government is treating attacks against religious minorities, especially the Ahmadiyya, as seriously.”
“The government must show its willingness to stem the rising tide of discrimination and abuse against the Ahmadis and other religious minorities,” he added.
The Ahmadiyya are a religious group who consider themselves a part of Islam, although many Muslim groups say they do not adhere to the accepted belief system.
Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of intimidation and violence against the Ahmadiyya community by radical Islamist groups in various parts of Indonesia. These include attacks and burning of Ahmadiyya places of worship and homes.
The Ahmadiyya community are also discriminated against in law, including by a 2008 joint ministerial decree forbidding the Ahmadiyya from promoting their activities.
In September 2010, Indonesia's Minister of Religion, Suryadharma Ali, called for the Ahmadiyya to be banned. Several provinces across Indonesia have also brought in local regulations restricting the group’s activities.
The decrees include prohibiting the Ahmadiyya from distributing pamphlets, putting signs in front of their offices and places of worship, as well as forbidding them from wearing anything to indicate that they are Ahmadiyya members.
“It is crucial that the Indonesian authorities ensure the protection of the Ahmadis from any kind of intimidation or attacks. President Yudhoyono’s government must also immediately repeal the joint ministerial decree and revoke local regulations that restrict their activities,” Sam Zarifi said.
"It is high time that Indonesia develops a concrete strategy to strengthen respect for freedom of religion and religious tolerance, which has clearly deteriorated in recent years," he added.
In most cases, those who commit acts of violence against the Ahmadiyya are not punished and the authorities often blame the minority for “deviant views” when attacks occur.