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Jakarta Post

Keep the faith: Bandung issues first ID cards with native religion column

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Fri, February 22, 2019   /   09:42 am
Keep the faith: Bandung issues first ID cards with native religion column A resident named Tuhan, whose ID card went viral due to his name. In an unrelated development, Bandung issued for the first time on Wednesday identity cards (KTPs) with a faith column for native religion followers. (Kompas.com/Ira Rachmati)

The Bandung City Population and Civil Registry Agency in West Java has for the first time issued identity cards (KTPs) with a column for faith rather than religion.

“I applied to change my ID card in August 2018, and today it is available for me to pick up,” Bonnie Nugraha Permana, 46, said on Wednesday.

The change in his ID card was sought at the same time he applied to change his family card, which included his wife and their two children, he said.

Now the religion column in the family card for all members of his family has been changed from a blank to “Faith in One God”. The same wording is in their KTPs.

To change the KTPs, Bonnie had to submit a letter from Majelis Luhur Kepercayaan Indonesia (MLKI), an organization which accommodates followers of local religions and indigenous beliefs throughout Indonesia, to the agency. Bonnie, who is a civil servant is also chairman of the Bandung branch of the MLKI.

Bonnie proposed the change of faith column on his citizenship documentation following the Constitutional Court’s ruling regarding a judicial review of articles 61 and 64 of Law No 23/2013 on Population Administration filed by followers of four indigenous faiths who argued that the law violated the principle of equality before the law.

The disputed articles required followers of indigenous faiths to leave the religion column in their ID cards blank, which was considered discriminatory. The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2017.

“I am glad that I finally can have my ID card issued,” said Bonnie, adding that another native faith believer Nanang of Bandung, also had his ID card issued on the same day.

To date, only six regional administrations have provided faith columns in the KTPs of native faith believers, Bonnie said. The other five regions are Semarang, Tegal, Blora, Jepara, and Cilacap all in Central Java.

However, according to Dewi Kanti, member of the Adat Karuhun Urang (AKUR), representing Sunda Wiwitan faith members in South Kuningan and Cigugur, the issuance of such KTPs did not automatically eliminate discrimination against native faith followers.

The changing of the religion column into a faith column, she said, was still discriminatory. “Categorizing it only as a faith is a setback, because religion and faith are equal,” she said, citing Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution, which says the state guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his or her own religion or beliefs.

The government, she added, was still discriminatory in providing public services for its citizens. Such discrimination was seen in the requirement that a change in the ID card could only be proposed by native faith followers registered as a member of a particular organization.

Dewi said her organization would file a report to the Indonesian Ombudsman because the issue was related to public services, which are supposed to be non-discriminatory.

This would also include issues such as the division of graveyards for people of different faiths. “If the state facilitates followers of other religions, why doesn’t it do the same for us,” Dewi said.

The new KTP issuance was still far from fulfilling the political civil rights of faith believers, she said, pointing to the fact that in a family card, a marriage between native faith believers was not mentioned.

“It’s the state that is not yet ready for this, not the citizens,” Dewi said. (swa)