US State Department Points to Human Rights Problems in Indonesia

By Jakarta Globe on 02:56 pm May 15, 2013
Indonesian Shiites wearing shirts that spell out the words ‘I am Tajul Muluk,’ referring to the leader of the Shiite community in Sampang, whose image is on banners in the background, rally outside the parliament building in Jakarta on May 14, 2013. The group was protesting plans by the East Java government to relocate a group of 200 Shiite Muslims living at a sport hall in Sampang, who had been driven from their village after a deadly clash with local Sunnis in 2012.  (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Indonesian Shiites wearing shirts that spell out the words ‘I am Tajul Muluk,’ referring to the leader of the Shiite community in Sampang, whose image is on banners in the background, rally outside the parliament building in Jakarta on May 14, 2013. The group was protesting plans by the East Java government to relocate a group of 200 Shiite Muslims living at a sport hall in Sampang, who had been driven from their village after a deadly clash with local Sunnis in 2012. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Despite undergoing a dramatic democratic transformation over the last decade, a new report released on Tuesday by the United States Department of State maintains that Indonesia is still struggling with certain human rights matters.

In its 2012 Human Rights Report on Indonesia, the state department highlighted several worrying issues, including the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, abuses by security forces, people trafficking and child labor, that are still taking place in the country.

“The suppression or abridgement of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities was a problem. The government applied treason and blasphemy laws to limit freedom of expression by peaceful independence advocates in the provinces of Papua, West Papua and Maluku and by religious minority groups,” the executive resume of the report said.

The report said that minority religious groups such as Ahmadis, Shiites, other non-Sunni Muslims and Christians were occasionally victims of societal discrimination and violence.

It also pointed out that under the Blasphemy Law, “spreading religious hatred, heresy, and blasphemy” is punishable by up to five years in prison. On July 12, the Sampang District Court sentenced Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk to two years in prison for blasphemy following the issuance of a fatwa (Islamic edict) by a local Islamic clerical council that called his teaching deviant.

On September 21, the court extended the sentence to four years.

Official corruption, including within the judiciary, was also a major problem for Indonesia, according to the report.

“On some occasions, the government punished officials who committed abuses, but judicial sentencing often was not commensurate with the severity of offenses, as was true in other types of crimes,” the report said.

Additionally, the report stated that there were accounts of the government and its agents committing arbitrary or unlawful killings during the year. It cited the shooting of Mako Tabuni, a leader of the National Committee for West Papua, under unclear circumstances on June 14.

On July 27, members of the National Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) dispersed a demonstration over land problems by villagers in Limbang Jaya village, Ogan Ilir district in South Sumatra, leaving a 12-year-old boy dead of a gunshot wound. Investigators interviewed 120 Brimob members who took part in the clash, but none were arrested or charged.

Furthermore, a number of violent incidents, including killings by unknown parties in Papua and West Papua, were recorded.

Unknown attackers, whom government officials and human rights contacts suspected to be Papuan separatists, killed a small number of non-Papuan migrants.

Local NGOs reported that torture continues to be commonplace in police detention facilities throughout the country. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported that between July 2011 and June 2012, it received 86 reports of torture involving a total of 243 victims. Eleven of the cases occurred in Papua.

The report also said that conditions in Indonesia’s 428 prisons and detention centers were sometimes harsh or life threatening, and that overcrowding was widespread.

  • blightyboy

    Absolute rubbish! The President has awards to prove it.

  • Clearheaded

    I can’t wait to hear the chest thumping nationalistic response from the Government, complete with the total denial and the excuse that it is the minorities fault for “provoking” everyone left right and center.

    The truly sad fact though, is that even this is a very light weight report that really does not state the situation in reality. Albiet the Executive summary it still lack any real guts.

    There will be no reduction in this horrible and deteriorating situation. This Government seems to genuinely encourage the intolerance.

  • TalkingEid

    Perhaps the USA might carry a bit more moral authority on human rights issues if they stopped executing people.

  • sheldon

    Hahaha. This from a country who kill people daily with drones, assassinations the CIA and kill lists. How about cleaning their own house first?

  • http://www.facebook.com/idropdeadgorgeous Fransisko Lojaya

    Wonder what will their reports say about human right abuse claims in Iraq

  • http://www.facebook.com/idropdeadgorgeous Fransisko Lojaya

    How about do an article about ‘Human Rights Problems in Afghanistan’ instead bro

  • Catweazle

    It reads like something you might get in a tourist travel guide under the ‘things to be aware of section… but don’t let it spoil your holiday’.

  • GlobalCitizen

    Let’s not try to deflect the issue, convolute the situation by bringing up other countries or even criticize back on what’s going on in the United States. Every country has good and bad things. At issue is whether or not all the issues raised are in existence in Indonesia? The answer is ABSOLUTELY! Indonesia defies the World Health Organization by continuing and rationalizing female circumcision, child labor is abundant, child rape is all over, underage girls sold to contract marriages are widely practiced, sexual violence in public transportation is rampant, churches being shut down using the disguise of lack of permit although the supreme court has ruled otherwise, Ahmadiyah and Shiite followers being harassed with their houses of worship being demolished and robbed, what else? Criticism is justified!