Amnesty Calls to End Discrimination Against Indonesian Shiites

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Asia
Monday, 28 January 2013

indonHuman rights watchdog Amnesty International is calling on the Indonesian government to end its discrimination against the Shiite Muslim minority in Madura, East Java, and guarantee the community a safe return to their homes.

In a press statement obtained by the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday, Amnesty International said that a potential forced relocation of the Shia community living in a temporary shelter in East Java represents the continuing discrimination against religious minorities in Indonesia.

“The Indonesian authorities must guarantee the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the Shia community to their homes, according to their wishes, and help them to rebuild the homes that were damaged or destroyed,” said Isabelle Arradon of Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Program.

An estimated 165 Shiites, including 48 children, have been living in inadequate conditions at a sports complex in the Sampang district of Madura Island since August 2012 after their village in the same district was attacked by a Sunni Muslim mob.

Amnesty, citing “credible local sources,” said that the authorities have given the displaced villagers until March to convert to Sunnism if they wish to return to their homes. “They must also end discrimination against religious minorities in the country and investigate reports that the local and provincial authorities are coercing Shia followers to renounce their faith before they are allowed to return to their homes.”

Amnesty also called on the government to drag to court all those involved in the attack on the Shia community in Sampang.

Meanwhile, the rights watchdog also pointed out that the conditions of the community's temporary shelter are deteriorating, with provincial police on Jan. 1 withdrawing their personnel who had been deployed to protect the minority religious group.

“The Indonesian authorities must ensure that the community is granted immediate access to essential services such as food and health services. In particular, more needs to be done to ensure that children who are currently unwell get access to adequate medical care,” said Arradon.

The community, from Karang Gayam village in Sampang district, were displaced in August 2012 when an anti-Shia mob of around 500 people attacked the community with sharp weapons and stones. The mob also set fire to 35 houses belonging to the Shia community.

One person was killed and dozens were injured. Only five people have so far been charged by police.

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