Tag Archives: justice

Getting away with religious murder in Indonesia

I must applaud A. Lin Neumann for his powerful opinion piece in today’s Jakarta Globe newspaper. Indonesia is letting murderers, people who kill in the name of the dominant form of Islam, to get away with slaps on the wrist.

In an appalling series of decisions on Thursday, a court in Serang, western Java, gave sentences of three to six months’ jail to 12 men who led a mob of around 1,500 Muslim fanatics against a small group of Ahmadiyah sect members in February this year. Three of the followers of the minority Muslim faith were viciously slaughtered in front of police, who did nothing to intervene. Then the mob set upon the corpses and the property, and hunted the survivors through the surrounding fields.  Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch summed it up with one word: “savagery”.

The whole thing was captured on video for all to see. Be warned, this is disturbing footage.

Only 12 people were charged over this incident. None was charged with murder. None received a sentence stiffer than six months in jail. All will walk free in weeks. That’s Indonesian justice and tolerance. It is tolerance of murder and mob rule.

You can read more on the pathetic judicial process here at Human Rights Watch.

Here are some extracts from Neumann’s piece:

I still cannot get one sound from the Feb. 6 Cikeusik mob attack on a handful of Ahmadiyah followers out of my head. At some point the shouting and mayhem, which millions have seen on YouTube, seems to subside as a lifeless body in the mud is beaten with wooden staves. There follows a series of sickening wet slaps against the corpse as a crowd shouts in approval.

But that man and two other victims were not murdered, according to prosecutors who chose the lightest possible charges to throw up against the clearly identifiable suspects in the Banten province attack. On Thursday, a court made it official, handing out sentences of three to six months to 12 men accused of leading and carrying out the assault.

Dani bin Misra, a 17-year-old, smashed a victim’s skull with a stone; he was charged with manslaughter and got three months. The leader of the mob of about 1,000 people who attacked 20 Ahmadis, Idris bin Mahdani, was convicted of illegal possession of a machete and got five months and 15 days in jail.

In other words, murder – organized, premeditated and captured on video – is not much more of a crime than stealing a bunch of bananas. In Indonesia, it appears, you can get away with murder, as long as the killing is done in the name of religion…

The sad truth is that Indonesia, despite its progress on so many fronts, still allows preachers of hate to foment criminal acts against others. In this upside-down world, Ahmadiyah followers can be killed for their belief that their prophet came after Mohammed. They are fair game.

Thursday’s court verdict seems likely to spur still more mob terror since the crime carries virtually no punishment and the government does so little to speak out against such heinous acts.

This is a frightening black mark on a nation that prides itself on being a bastion of tolerance guided by Pancasila, whose first pillar is religious freedom and whose second is Kemanusiaan yang Adil dan Beradab, which states that all people should be treated with dignity as creatures of God.

This is not the first time such an outrage has gone virtually unpunished. Just two days after the Cikeusik killings, a mob in Temanggung, Central Java, ran riot in reaction to a blasphemy verdict. They were angry because a Christian accused of defaming Islam got only a five-year sentence – mind you, he killed no one.

That mob burned churches and buildings and injured bystanders. Most of the accused were given five-month sentences by a Semarang court last month. The ring leader, a cleric, got a year’s sentence, which was reduced by several months for time served.

What is so deeply alarming about the Cikeusik verdicts and other outrages, however, is the absence of reasoned and consistent leadership from the top reaches of government to set a tone of tolerance in the face of criminal acts committed in the name of religion…

The impression that Indonesia is a major success story is increasingly widespread. But don’t take it for granted. Mob rule, disrespect for the law and courts that treat killers with kid gloves are also still part of Indonesia’s story.



Balinese justice: boy has sex with cow, drown cow in sea

I’m not sure what religion this falls under. Probably more like superstition. Whatever… the upshot is that if you catch a boy having sex with a cow, it’s the cow’s fault and you have to drown the poor (sacred!) animal in the sea.

It all went rather horribly pear-shaped for Balinese teenager Ngurah Alit after he had sex with a cow. He reckoned he’d had some kind of vision which made him think the animal was a beautiful, enticing woman. Bad luck, that.

According to The Jakarta Globe, the 18-year-old from the seaside village of Yeh Embang in Jembrana, was “caught stark naked positioned behind the cow in a rice paddy field”.

As if getting caught having intercourse with a farm animal wasn’t bad enough, Ngurah then had to marry the cow as part of a public “Pecaruan” ritual to cleanse the village of his foul deed.

Bali is a majority Hindu island but who knows if any of this has anything to do with Hinduism, or if it’s just the local witch-doctery gone absolutely stark raving mad. Same thing, really.

With the teenager’s distraught family, scandalised friends and neighbours, police and reporters all looking on, Ngurah fainted when the time came to seal his vows of marriage to the unfortunate beast.

Then the villagers had to drown the cow in the sea:

As part of the ceremony, Alit’s victim and new bride was drowned in [the] ocean.

Alit, on the other hand, was symbolically drowned and bathed on the beach.

“Only his clothes were thrown into the sea,” the villager said.

Village chief Ida Bagus Legawa declared that the village had been “cleansed” from the “defilement from the incident”.

I’m relieved that it all ended well for the village. Too bad about the cow and the poor boy, who will be traumatised for life by this grotesque public humiliation.

Some Indonesians wouldn’t see any injustice in this at all. Check out the comments by the female human rights worker in Aceh province who said women who wear tight jeans are to blame if they get raped.

This kind of black-magic often has very regrettable consequences.

Last week 12 children died when a suspension bridge they were standing on collapsed into a river in Aceh as they watched a similar “cleansing ceremony” to rid a village of bad luck associated with a measles outbreak.

(Photo courtesy of Pikaluk via Creative Commons)