Police inconsistent in protecting religious freedom
Police remain inconsistent in their task of protecting religious freedoms, a study has found, though the National Police reiterated on Thursday their commitment to protecting those rights.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported that police handling of assaults against religious minorities mostly failed to protect freedom of religion and worship, being successful in only two cases between 2010 and 2012.
Deputy National Police chief Brig.Gen. Nanan Soekarna told the one-day seminar on the police and religious freedom, that the National Police remained committed to “respect, protect and fulfill the rights of faith, religion and worship”, in line with the Constitution.
However, he said the police still needed more training on the issue and collaboration with various communities, including persuading minorities “not to be provocative”.
In a number of assaults against the Ahmadiyah minority group and on Christian congregations, attackers charged the minorities of trying to convert local Muslims.
The deputy police chief was the keynote speaker at the launch of Panduan Pemolisian dan Hak atas Kebebasan Berkeyakinan, Beragama, dan Beribadah (Policing Guidelines on Freedom of Faith, Religion and Worship), a book released by Kontras and supported, among others, by the British Embassy.
Sinung Karto from Kontras reported that in their monitoring of how police handled religious disputes between 2010 and 2012, the police succeeded in halting the violence following assaults on Ahmadiyah followers in Kuningan, West Java, in July 2010, and following an attack against Ahmadiyah in Keba-yoran Lama, Jakarta, in December of that year.
Sinung added, however, that the police had failed in other cases, such as the attack and murder of Ahmadi members in Cikeusik, Banten, on Feb. 6, 2011; the protracted dispute over the building permit for the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor, West Java; and the burning of property belonging to Shiites in Madura last December.
“Up to now, [Shiites] are still taking shelter with relatives and moving around” for their safety, the report read.
Lawmaker Eva K. Sundari cited difficulties in increasing the budget to improve police services, saying the planned allocations could “suddenly change” to pay for things like improving the National Police
She told the discussion that the police had yet to acquire “a civilian face” rather than “a militaristic face”, which she said could be achieved by boosting the number of women on the force.
“I’m sad that women account for only 3.75 percent of the National Police”, she said. Eva cited Poland’s police force, which “in seven years, turned from a militaristic police force into a civilian one”, with 50 percent of its personnel being women.
One policewoman, Sr. Comr. Yoyoh Indayah, was the Kuningan Police chief who handled the violence against the Ahmadiyah in 2010. Apart from “good coordination” with government bodies and the Indonesian Military (TNI), the report said, she set up the “Wednesday forums” to reduce tension among the Ahmadiyah and other Islamic communities in the regency.
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