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Jakarta Post

Yogya second for intolerance, religious-based violence

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Fri, January 2, 2015   /  09:57 am

Yogyakarta, previously dubbed the city of tolerance, has been ranked second for intolerance and violations of religious freedom by the Wahid Institute in its 2014 annual report.

The province at the top of the list, out of the 18 provinces monitored by the institute, is West Java with 55 cases of intolerance and violations of religious freedom, the report says.

The institute reported that during 2014, there were 21 cases of intolerance and violations of religious freedom committed in the Yogyakarta province, a drastic increase from just one in 2013.

'€œWe suspect this is because the police did not have the guts to act firmly and the regional administrations were always doubtful of religious-based issues,'€ the institute'€™s head of advocacy and monitoring program, M. Subhi Azhari, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Subhi said that of the 21 cases committed in Yogyakarta, 11 were cases of Muslim'€“Christian relations, which included the sealing of churches, the banning of a joint Easter celebration in Gunungkidul and an attack on a joint Rosario worship.

'€œThe Yogyakarta provincial administration and Yogyakarta Police have violated human rights because they could not protect the people'€™s right to freedom of religion and faith,'€ he said.

He expressed concern that Yogyakarta, which had long been renowned as a miniature Indonesia in terms of tolerance, now showed such a high rate of intolerance.

He urged the provincial administration and police to make sure that people had the freedom to practice their respective religions and faiths if they wanted the city to maintain its title as the city of tolerance.

The institute reported 158 incidents of violations of religious freedom in Indonesia in 2014, a decrease from the 245 cases reported in 2013.

The Institute recommended the central government and House of Representatives monitor intervention by regional administrations in religious-based issues, which were the authority of the central government.

The institute also urged the police to have the guts to protect minority groups and to avoid siding with perpetrators of violence by arguing that it was for the sake of security and order.

Meanwhile, Yogyakarta provincial councilor Chang Wendriyanto expressed the same, saying that both the police and the provincial administration had never acted firmly to protect minority groups practicing their respective religions and faiths.

He also criticized the Yogyakarta Police for not being serious in handling cases of violence against religious freedom. He said the provincial legislative council had repeatedly summoned the police chief for a hearing but the latter never showed up.

He also said he and his team had tried to meet the police chief at his office but were only met by the deputy chief.

Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X said that acts of intolerance were still committed in the province because there were intolerant people. '€œThis is a problem of individual awareness,'€ he said.

He added that his administration would take legal action against intolerant groups, but said this would not mean much if there were still people with no awareness of tolerance.

Separately the Yogyakarta Police in its annual report said that no violations of human rights had been committed in the province in 2014, claiming the attack on a house hosting a joint Rosario prayer in Sleman was an ordinary crime.

'€œNo violations of human rights were committed based on reports filed with the police,'€ Yogyakarta Police'€™s spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Any Pudjiastuti said.

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