Year-End Report on Freedom of Religion of 2015
The Wahid Institute has regularly performed monitoring of the dynamics of religious freedom since 2008. For the year 2015, in addition to reporting the "bad news", we also must be fair to admit that there is "good news" about the development of freedom of religion in the Homeland.
In the case of good news, we find, among others, Islam-based party personnel who become pecalang (security guards) in celebration of Nyepi in Bali, or the Evangelical Church in Indonesia that participated in donating sacrificial animals in Eid al-Adha celebration in Papua. The good news of this kind will certainly bring optimism back for the establishment of tolerance as well as strong evidence that pluralism and tolerance have long been practiced by our society.
Nevertheless, news of burnings of places of worship or intimidation of minorities still occurs. The bad news will hopefully encourage us all to work harder to promote awareness of inter-religious tolerance and confidence, particularly among young people.
From December 2015 to March 2016, the Wahid Institute in cooperation with the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) conducted research in three cities and three counties in West Java. It aimed to look at the role of local government in the fulfillment and protection of the right to freedom of religion in its territory. Local government is a state actor that can strengthen, or weaken, the right to freedom of religion through regulations and the rules of law in accordance with its authority.
In our research, we identified the tendency of local governments to issue policies expressing the interests of the intolerant. Some are caused by the weak performance of the local government in addressing social and political pressure from the intolerant group. But there is also the difficulty caused by the authorities in the area to distinguish its role as a state actor that should be objective and impartial towards the role of the individual with the religion and religious opinions that are followed.
Therefore, in this 2015 report we found that the largest number of religious freedom violations was committed by state actors. Also in this report we noted an increase in the number of violations of freedom of religion and intolerance compared to 2014. We conclude that the main cause of the increasing number of violations of freedom of religion in 2015, were due to the absence of significant changes in the pattern of handling cases of violation of freedom of religion, although there has been a change inthe national leadership.
Admittedly, there is a strong desire, particularly of the central government, to solve various problems of freedom of religion and intolerance, which are considered as one of the nation’s main problems. But the intention never came to fruition with concrete measures to solve the problems that remain unresolved, such as the Shia refugees in Sampang, the burning of GKI Yasmin, the closing of churches in Aceh Singkil, the mosque disputes in Manokwari and Bitung and many other issues. As a result, victims of violations still continue to suffer from negligence. It is an inherited debt that has yet to be settled.
This 2015 report covers 25 monitoring provinces comprising Aceh, West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu, Lampung, Banten, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, Bali, South Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, north Maluku, Papua, Gorontalo, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Riau Islands, West Papua, Papua.
In addition, in this 2015 report we use an additional approach in monitoring religious freedom that no longer focuses on the ‘bad practices’, instead we make a concerted to identify “good practices” performed by the local government in encouraging and strengthening inter-religious tolerance. We have to apply this method to obtain a more balanced picture of the dynamics of religious life in the country. The findings that we have collected are from the news media (both printed and electronic), Focus Group Discussions in several areas, and reports fromWI networks. This year we also developed a data collection method through M-Pantau, a reporting media for the public via SMS.
This Year-End Report on Freedom of Religion of 2015, we publish for the aim of providing additional information that can be useful for all parties concerned with the dynamics of religious freedom in Indonesia. We hope this report can help fellow civil society organizations in formulating strategic measures in campaigning for tolerance and peace. In addition, we hope that this report will be beneficial to the government and authorized institutions in developing policies and more precise approaches regarding the protection of religious freedom in Indonesia.