Subject: RI Minority Groups Still Being Attacked

Thursday, May 27, 2010

RI Minority Groups Still Being Attacked

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's minority and religious groups remain vulnerable to violence and discrimination, says an Amnesty International report released Wednesday in  Indonesia.

The influential group cited the case of Christian students at SETIA Theological College (STT) in Jakarta who continued to study and live in sub-standard temporary buildings after a violent attack by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) forced their evacuation in July 2008.

The FPI is a hard-line Islamic group in Indonesia.

There are calls from Indonesians and moderate Muslims for the government to regulate or ban the FPI, but currently no action has been taken against the group.

The Amnesty International report also said that the Indonesian government has been hampering freedom of expression and that at least 114 people were detained in 2009 for public statements or demonstrations of dissent.

The overwhelming majority [of those detained] were peaceful political activists who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for raising prohibited pro-independence flags in Maluku or Papua,? said the report.

As previously reported, separatists from the South Maluku Republic (RMS) group tried to wave an RMS flag in front of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono?s entourage during his visit to Maluku in June 2007.

RMS protesters performed an unscheduled cakalele war dance for a quarter hour before one protestor unfurled a large RMS flag during a ceremony to commemorate National Family Day.

The government said that the group's actions were a serious threat to the country's unity.

Authorities detained a number of RMS activists in 2004 and 2005 who were later arrested and convicted for involvement in similar incidents.

Amnesty International also said that the government continued to intimidate and harass human rights activists and that at least seven activists were facing criminal defamation charges.

Most alleged human rights violations against human rights defenders, including torture, murder and disappearances, have remained unsolved and those responsible have not been brought to justice, the report said.

In the case of Munir Said Thalib, Amnesty International said that those responsible for slaying the human rights activist were still at large.

There were violent clashes throughout the year in Papua province, said the report.

Police torture was widespread during a series of arrests, interrogations and detentions in Papua. Security forces also allegedly committed unlawful killings.

In January, at least 75 villagers from Suluk Bongkal village, Riau Islands, were charged with illegally claiming land and were arrested after being forcefully evicted from the land,? said the report.

The group also criticized the government for a failure to bring to justice past human rights violators in Aceh, Papua, East Timor (now Timor Leste) and elsewhere in the archipelago.


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