The effects of growing religious intolerance in Indonesia go much deeper
than just limiting freedom to worship and have the potential in some
cases to affect the victims’ entire lives, activists say.
domino effect of the intolerance is tremendous, not only are people
prevented from the freedom to worship their God but their other rights
have been denied,” Palti Panjaitan, the national coordinator of the
Solidarity of Victims of Religious Freedom Violations (Sobat KBB), told
the Jakarta Globe recently.
Palti, the pastor of Bekasi, West
Java’s HKBP Filadelfia church — long subject to persecution — said many
victims of religious intolerance were prevented from living their lives
"Ahmadi can’t marry legally and their children would
be born without needed documentation. They will be considered
illegitimate [children] who were born out of wedlock, and later these
children can’t access many facilities as citizens, including Jamkesmas
[state health insurance for the poor],” he said, referring to adherents
of the Islamic sect known as Ahmadiyah.
Although there is no
formal instruction from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, allegations
of an unspoken rule prohibiting the marrying of Ahmadiyah couples have
"The sad thing about it is that many victims
choose to stay quiet because they would be criminalized if they fought
back,” he said.
Palti himself has been named a suspect by police
for allegedly assaulting a member of an intolerant group on Christmas
Eve last year, a charge Palti says was trumped up.
Chuzaifah, chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence Against
Women (Komnas Perempuan), said even though Indonesia has ratified
several international conventions pertaining to human rights, violations
against minorities remained rampant.
Yuniyanti said most
victims of religious intolerance could not access their economic and
social rights because of pressures from hard-liners.
"They can’t obtain an ID card, they can’t join the election and they can’t even set up an account at banks,” she said.
violence had started to take its toll on children especially, Yuniyanti
said. In some places like Bekasi, she said, children had started to
fear religious symbols, associating them with violence.
are terrified seeing people dressing in Islamic garb and they are
scared whenever they hear somebody chant ‘Allahu akbar’ because they
think it means an attack. This is sad, because religion has become
something terrifying for children.”
Palti urged the government must take immediate action.
we hear persecuted people have started to retaliate; in my hometown in
North Sumatra we heard some mosques were burned down. This has to stop
now,” he said.
A report by the Setara Institute, an
Indonesia-based research and advocacy group, found 216 cases of violent
attacks on religious minorities in 2010, 244 cases in 2011 and 264 cases