(3 August 2011, Bangkok) The lenient sentences of 12 men who were implicated in a brutal mob attack against members of the Ahmadiyah community in Banten, Indonesia will perpetuate impunity of crimes against religious minorities, warned the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights organization and its member, Imparsial.
In February 2011, around 20 Ahmadiyah followers in Cikeusik village in Banten who were holding a peaceful religious ritual were attacked by a thousand-strong mob killing three persons and severely injuring six. On 28 July 2011, the Serang District Court sentenced the 12 accused to only three to six month imprisonment terms.
The perpetrators were charged for “participating in a violent attack that resulted in casualties”. In the verdicts, the panel of judges mentioned that it was the Ahmadiyah group who instigated the attack by ignoring calls by police to leave the scene. In addition, prosecutors turned down all murder or manslaughter charges against defendants involved with the attack.
“It is appalling that the perpetrators of this serious crime only received an imprisonment sentence of six months in view of three persons being killed, merely because they professed a different faith,” said Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.
Poengky Indarti, Executive Director of Imparsial, a member of FORUM-ASIA, also expressed extreme concerned with the way the case was handled by the prosecutor, who asked the judge to sentence one of the victims of the attack, Mr. Deden Sujana to six years imprisonment on ground of provocation while only demanded five to seven months prison terms for the twelve attackers.
The regional human rights organization with 46 members in Asia, said it was alarmed with the series of intimidations and attacks against religious minorities by the extremist groups in Indonesia. “We fear this light sentence will only encourage even more violent attacks on religious minorities in Indonesia in future,” said Yap.
FORUM-ASIA and Imparsial urged the Indonesian government to revoke a 2008 ministerial decree that bans activities of the Ahmadiyah groups. Yap said the decree only serves as a justification for extremist groups to launch violent attacks on the Ahmadiyah.
“As a democracy and a country that respects the rule of law, Indonesian government should guarantee a person’s freedom of religion or belief, and make necessary amendments to the restrictive decrees and adopt concrete measures to protect religious minorities in accordance with the International human rights laws including the ICCPR which Indonesia government ratified in 2005,” said FORUM-ASIA and Imparsial.