——— Indonesia, June 11th 2008 ———
– The Heads of United Nations’ Member States, and
– The Distinguished Members of the World Community
It is with much regret, and a deep sense of shame, that I write this about the atrocities in my country against the religious minorities. I am compelled to address the World Community, since my appeals to my own Government officials have bore no result whatsoever.
In recent years, the Muslim radicals and extremists here in Indonesia have gained more power and energy, largely due to the weakness of our own state. Our present government is backed by several parties; and, many of them are clearly in favor of those radicals and extremists.
These radicals and extremists are not only intolerant toward the beliefs of the minority groups, but also against the somewhat secular ideology of the state and its very, very tolerant constitution.
Indonesia is a country with the largest Muslim population in the world; a large number of Muslims in this country are tolerant…indeed, many are moderate. However, they are not as vocal as the handful of radicals we now see perpetrating violence against the peace-loving people in Indonesia, inflicting physical and emotional harm, and causing law-abiding Indonesians undue fear for the loss of their basic rights for personal health, well-being, and safety.
Unfortunately, these radicals have been created by several political parties for their own political motives. Such practices – politics without principles – have given them much energy. Now, they have turned into monsters!
On the 1st of June 2008, my friends and colleagues from the National Integration Movement, and the Anand Ashram Foundation (affiliated with United Nations through Department of Public Information), joined the National Alliance for Freedom of Religious Beliefs in their Peace Rally and Campaign against Violence.
We were there with our musical instruments and equipments to sing, dance, and pass our message in a dignified, humane, and non-violent way.
As we entered the grounds where the National Monument is located (in Central Jakarta), we were brutally attacked by these radicals. More than 80 of us were wounded – many seriously. One of our youngsters now suffers from permanent brain damage.
The Police came, albeit a bit late – after these criminals did their job of violence. Not one of them was arrested on the spot. The Police Department would later justify this by stating that any arrest on the spot would have created riots. However….that is the way it was…..
A few days later, after much pressure from the public and the media – one of the radicals who was admittedly responsible for these brutal attacks, injuring many, along with several of his gang, was arrested. (His name is Habib Riziek, and he is the most notorious of the radicals, and the head of a radical group named Front Pembela Islam, the Defenders of Islam). Another man, Munarman, who publicly announced that he was responsible for the June 1st incident, the self-acclaimed Commander of all Islamic Lasykars (Battalions), went “missing”.
Later, Munarman sent a video recording of his demands from his place of hiding, and I quote: “the minority sect Ahamdiyah must be banned”…..and then went on to say that only then would he give in to the police. True to what he said, and naturally, he is now being presented as a hero by those very radicals. He walked into the police office, and had himself arrested after the government issued a joint letter (signed by three ministers) summoning the sect to stop all their activities.
Now, thousands of their supporters, these very radicals can hold any kind of a rally…and campaign for just about anything in support of their detained mentors, and ask for their release.
Presently, all of us who bombarded the media…and the government officials…with thousands of appeals and petitions for their arrest – now live in a state of fear. If any one of these arrested radicals are released, then we all know that we will be attacked by them!
To make things worse, some of our ministers and high officials are openly supporting these radicals. In fact, one of the ministers (Minister of Co-operatives and Small Scale Industries, who also happened to be the head of one of the political parties supporting the present government) visited Riziek in jail; as did a cleric who is head of the Islamic group NU.
I therefore urge you to appeal to my government in Indonesia to take a strong stand on this issue. The culprits, Riziek and Munarman must be sentenced! There is plenty of good evidence and compelling proof, with which the Police Department, the Attorney General, and the Court could make use of in supporting a solid case in the prosecution of these criminals. Several of these materials have already been given to the Police Department.
Increasing radicalism in this country will definitely affect the security of the entire world. It is, therefore, in the interest of the world community that, not only these two men, but also their supporters, be immediately arrested. The evidence is plentiful…and it is only the political will on the part of our government that is now required.
I am sure Excellencies, I shall not be disappointed….. God Willing, Amen….