Monday, 9 February 2015

RI urged to end religious intolerance, back women's rights

The Indonesian government should take decisive action to address religious intolerance and a rollback in women’s rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a newly released report.
The World Report 2015 says the human rights challenges facing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who took office on Oct. 20, 2014, are immense as he inherited a legacy of worsening sectarianism and security-force impunity from his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“President Widodo has spoken of the need for greater respect for human rights in Indonesia. He needs to back up those words with concrete actions,” HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said regarding the group’s 25th edition report released on Friday.
Despite some important progress on human rights in 2014, the Indonesian government should move quickly to defend religious minorities from harassment, intimidation and violence by militant groups, HRW said.
Seven people were injured when Islamist militants carrying wooden bats and iron bars attacked the home of book publisher Julius Felicianus in Yogyakarta while his family conducted an evening Christian prayer meeting on May 29, 2014.
“Police arrested the alleged leader of the attack but later released him after local authorities pressured Felicianus to drop charges to maintain ‘religious harmony’,” the group said.
In September, the administration in Aceh passed two Islamic bylaws that extended Islamic law to non-Muslims, criminalizing the drinking of alcohol, consensual same-sex relations and all sexual relations outside of marriage. The bylaws permit as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison.
“President Widodo’s government should also address the rollback in women’s rights over the past decade,” said HRW. Many local regulations require female students and civil servants, among other women and girls, to wear the hijab. Meanwhile, female applicants nationwide to Indonesia’s National Police must take “virginity tests” that have been described as abusive, degrading and discriminatory.
In the 656-page world report, HRW reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Executive director Kenneth Roth said in an introductory essay to the report that governments needed to recognize that human rights offer an effective moral guide in turbulent times, and that violating rights can spark or aggravate serious security challenges.
“The short-term gains of undermining core values of freedom and non-discrimination are rarely worth the long-term price," he said.
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