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Indonesia’s multi-ethnic society threatened by violations of religious freedom

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There is a fear that Indonesia’s multi-ethnic social fabric is being threatened by intolerance and violations towards the religious freedoms of minority groups. The National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Belief (AKKBB), which includes FORUM-ASIA member Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI), have called upon the government to re-examine and cancel the publication of the Three Ministers’ Joint Agreement to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution and guarantee its citizens religious freedom and equality before the law.

Press release

(Jakarta) When the defenders of the nation proclaimed Indonesia’s independence, there was a strong ambition to establish a modern country which could become a “joint home” for the various ethnic, cultural and religious groups, which has long been a unique characteristic of the Indonesian people. Based on this, the defenders of the nation laid down the principles of the Indonesian people in the
Pancasila and UUD 1945 which came about through consensus on the need to coexist based on justice and honour.

Recently, however, that principle consensus is being threatened by social-political processes which are very disturbing, especially those that are related the freedom of religion and belief, which remains the most fundamental and non-derogable of rights, regardless of the situation. It must be admitted that the reformasi process also has brought about a significant development: combined with the issues of human rights protection in the Constitution, endorsed by UU HAM No 39/1999 and including the ratification of the two basic international human rights protocol (UU No 11/2005 dan UU No 12/2005).

However, in practice, the entire constitutional guarantee and human rights pertaining to freedom of religion and belief seem to have been paralysed when faced with intolerant practices, which usually tend to become violent. Furthermore, what complicates the issue that the country is undergoing “the politics of ignorance”, and fails to undertake its past constitional obligation by firmly underscoring that ”Protection, development, upholding and fulfilling human rights is the responsibility of the country, especially the government” (UUD 1945, Article 28I, Line 4).

It is the above situation that has driven the various groups who focus on freedom of religion and belief to feel the necessity to invite all stakeholders, especially the governmentof this country, to :

1. Emphasise that the country is a constitutional and lawful country, which means that the entire implementation process of the whole nation is based on the Constitution and law, not on the pressure imposed by certain groups based on their interests or beliefs, especially those who are anti-democratic and those who endorse violence. 
2. Guarantee fundamental rights (normative) of every Indonesian citizen without exception.
3. Indicate a high commitment to establish equality of law between every citizen, especially in upholding the rule of law.
4. Reject strongly intolerant attitudes and actions and all forms of violence.
5. Guarantee that everyone is equal and punishable before the law.

We specifically urge the President and all Ministers to:

Re-examine and cancel the publication of the Three Ministers’ Joint Agreement related to the Ban on Ahmadiyah in Indonesia, including the following considerations, that the:

1. Ban clearly violates the Constitution, which we have agreed would be the model of our co-existence.
2. Ban will deteriorate into the disintegration of the Indonesian nation and the aspiration of Indonesia to be a democratic country that strongly upholds human rights principles.
3. Ban would become a precedent to ban and discriminate against other groups which are considered different.

06 May, 2008

National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Belief

Endorsed by:

Aliansi Kebangsaan untuk Kebebasan Beragama dan Berkeyakinan (AKKBB), Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, National Integration Movement, The Wahid Institute, Kontras, LBH Jakarta,  Jaringan Islam Kampus, Jaringan Islam Liberal, Lembaga Studi Agama dan Filsafat, Generasi Muda Antar Iman, Institut DIAN/Interfidei, Masyarakat Dialog Antar Agama, Komunitas Jatimulya, eLSAM, Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI) Aliansi Nasional Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, Lembaga Kajian Agama dan Jender, Pusaka Padang, Yayasan Tunas Muda Indonesia, Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia,  GANDI Persekutuan Gereja-gereja Indonesia, Forum Mahasiswa Ciputat, Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia, Gerakan Ahmadiyah Indonesia, Tim Pembela Kebebasan Beragama, El_Ai_Em Ambon, Yayasan Ahimsa (YA), Jakarta, Gedong Gandhi Ashram (GGA) Bali, Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia (KPI), Dinamika Edukasi Dasar (DED) Jogjakarta, Forum Persaudaraan Antar-Umat Beriman Jogjakarta, Forum Suara Hati Kebersamaan Bangsa (FSHKB) Surakarta, SHEEP Indonesia Jogjakarta, Forum Lintas Agama Jawa Timur Surabaya, Lembaga Kajian Agama dan Sosial Surabaya, LSM Adriani Poso, PRKP Poso, Komunitas Gereja Damai, Komunitas Gereja Sukapura, GAKTANA, Wahana Kebangsaan, Yayasan Tifa, Komunitas Penghayat, Forum Mahasiswa Syariah se-Indonesia NTB, Relawan untuk Demokrasi dan Hak Asasi Manusia (REDHAM) Lombok, Forum Komunikasi Lintas Iman  Gorontalo, Crisis Center SAG Manado, LK3 Banjarmasin, Forum Dialog Antar Kita (FORLOG-Antar Kita) Sulawesi Selatan Makassar, Jaringan Antar-iman se-Sulawesi, Forum Dialog Kalimantan Selatan (FORLOG KALSEL) Banjarmasin, PERCIK Salatiga, Sumatera Cultural Institut Medan, Muslim Institut Medan; PUSHAM UII Jogjakarta, Swabine Yasmine Flores-Ende; Komunitas Peradaban Aceh, Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan, AJI Damai Yogyakarta, LBH Padang, PP Fatayat NU, Kapal Perempuan