An Indonesian human rights organization has blasted a US-based interfaith group’s decision to recognize President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for championing religious freedom, arguing that he has failed abjectly on that front.
The Human Rights Working Group said on Monday that there were “several reasons why SBY doesn’t deserve” the World Statesman Award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
“On cases of [religious-based] violence and intolerance, the president has failed to uphold the law in a fair manner, both in preventing violence committed in the name of religion and in ensuring that the victims receive justice,” Muhammad Choirul Anam, the HRWG deputy director, said in the statement.
“On the other hand, law enforcement and government officials in the SBY administration have actually been involved in acts of intolerance and even criminalization of the victims.”
He added that the government had also failed to nurture a culture of tolerance and to afford protection to minority religious groups in the country.
“Another reason that SBY doesn’t deserve the award is because he has far too often remained silent on the rights abuses suffered by members of minority faiths in Indonesia,” Choirul said.
“In many cases, like that of the Ahmadiyah since 2005, the president has to date never called on his officials to take firm action against perpetrators of intolerance who have clearly violated the Constitution.”
He said it was the same thing in the case of the Taman Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia Protestant churches in West Java, which continue to be sealed off by local authorities in direct violation of Supreme Court rulings ordering them to be reopened.
“The failure of law enforcement, the lack of efforts to nurture tolerance and the president’s silence on rights violations have contributed greatly to the current climate of intolerance in Indonesia,” Choirul said.
The ACF hands out the World Statesman Award annually to “heads of state who have exemplified their commitment to freedom, human rights, peace and respect for religious and ethnic diversity, and endeavor to advance these essential democratic values on the international scene.”