For Immediate Release: July 28, 2011
New York, NY – An Indonesian court today handed down sentences ranging from three to six months of imprisonment for 12 defendants convicted of charges – including public incitement, property destruction, and assault leading to serious injury or death – stemming from a February case of deadly mob violence targeting members of the minority Ahmadiyah religion in Banten. In Indonesia, assault resulting in death carries a maximum of 12 years imprisonment. The case was among the religious-based violent incidences highlighted in a 2011 Human Rights First blasphemy report and in the organization’s intervention before the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in March.
“Today’s lenient sentences for these heinous crimes are shocking,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “Justice has not been served. The Indonesian government failed to prevent this attack. In fact, police officers stood by and watched as people were killed. It then failed to bring a solid case before the court that adequately reflects the harm caused. The government now has a responsibility to change course. It should revoke a 2008 anti-Amadiyah decree that violates the nation’s constitutional guarantee for freedom or religion and perpetuates the notion that Ahmadis are members of a deviant sect. It should also make clear that any such attacks motivated by religious intolerance in the future will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Today’s verdict marks the final chapter in a crime that drew international attention for its breathtaking brutality. On February 6, 2011, while 21 Ahmadis assembled at the home of their leader, a mob composed of more than 1000 villagers armed with machetes and sticks stormed the house of worship. Four Ahmadis were killed and six others were wounded. Graphic video footage of the brutal and allegedly unprovoked attack shows the attackers stoning their victims to death and then beating the corpses, some naked, as police officers and villagers watched and did nothing to stop the bloodshed.
To speak with a member of Human Right First’s staff about today’s verdicts or the issue of blasphemy, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at 202-370-3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.