The Constitution provides for "all persons the right to worship according to his or her own religion or belief," and states that "the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God" and the Government generally respects these provisions; however, there are some restrictions on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. The Government has given official recognition in the form of representation at the Ministry of Religious Affairs to five major faiths--Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism and Buddhism. In January 2000, former President Abdurrahman Wahid lifted the ban on the practice of Confucianism that had existed since 1967 and in May 2000 a decree banning the Baha'i Faith and the Rosicrucians was lifted. In June 2001, the Government lifted its ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses. While only the five above-mentioned religions are officially recognized, the law also states that other religions are not forbidden.
There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. There is widespread tension between Muslims and Christians that has erupted into localized violent conflicts in recent years. A small minority of extremists, primarily from outside the conflict areas, have exploited and exacerbated the violence. Ongoing conflicts between Muslims and Christians resulted in the deaths of at least 125 persons and the displacement of 390,000 others during the period covered by this report. During late 2001, the Government worked to end Muslim-Christian violence in Central Sulawesi and the Moluccas by dispatching thousands of soldiers and police officers to the area and by brokering peace agreements between the two communities in December 2001 and February 2002. The agreements reduced but did not end the violence. Among other issues, economic factors have contributed to the conflicts, which increasingly have been expressed in religious terms. In both Central Sulawesi and the Moluccas, lax law enforcement and the halting of efforts to disarm Muslim fighters has allowed violence to continue despite the new peace agreements.The Government has been criticized over the conduct of the military in conflict areas. Some military units were accused of siding with their coreligionists, both Muslim and Christian, and supporting combatants, either directly or indirectly. The lack of an effective government response to punish perpetrators and prevent further attacks continued to lead to allegations that officials were complicit in some of the incidents or, at a minimum, allowed them to occur with impunity.
Religiously motivated violence elsewhere also included threats and occasional attacks by Muslims on entertainment establishments such as restaurants, bars, billiard clubs, and nightclubs by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other radical groups that deemed such establishments to be immoral. These threats and attacks occurred mainly in Jakarta, on the island of Java. The Government took no action against the perpetrators of such attacks and some observers linked the police to the FPI. In Jakarta Surabaya, and other cities local leaders ordered some nightspots to close during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. However, enforcement of the orders was lax, and many such businesses remained open.
In a few municipalities, groups attempted to force Muslim women to cover their heads with scarves per conservative Muslim custom. As part of the debate over constitutional reform, some political parties have advocated the adoption of Islamic law (Shari'a). However, the country's largest Muslim organizations remain opposed to the idea, as are secular political parties, which hold a majority in Parliament. As part of the Special Autonomy Law, the Government allowed local lawmakers to introduce Shari'a in Aceh; however, no legislation was passed as of the end of the period covered by this report.
In the easternmost province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), local residents expressed concern over the arrival of the Islamic extremist group Laskar Jihad, which has active organizations in at least half of the province's 14 districts. In the Papuan city of Sorong, local residents were vocal in their opposition to the group, which was held responsible for terrorizing and killing Christians in the Moluccas and Sulawesi.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. During the period covered by this report, the U.S. Government actively engaged with religious leaders and with the Ministry of Religion, and facilitated a number of interfaith conferences and seminars. These activities involved scholars and university students, and emphasized the importance of religious freedom and tolerance in a pluralistic society.
Section I: Religious Demography
The country is an archipelago of 17,000 islands covering a total area of approximately 1.8 million square miles (approximately 0.7 million miles are land mass), and its population is 206 million according to the 2000 census. The island of Java is home to half of the population. The latest available data, from 1990, indicate that 87 percent of the population were Muslim, 6.0 percent were Protestant, 3.6 percent were Catholic, 1.8 percent were Hindu, 1.0 percent were Buddhist, and 0.6 percent were "other," which includes traditional indigenous religions, other Christian groups, and Judaism. There is evidence that suggests that since 1990--and particularly with the recent lifting of restrictions on faiths such as Confucianism--the number of persons professing a religion other than Islam or Christianity may have increased slightly. There is no information available on the number of atheists (partly because some official identity documents require a religion to be listed); however, their numbers are believed to be minuscule.
Muslims are the majority population (at least 51 percent or more) in most regions of Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, and North Maluku. Muslims are distinct minorities only in Papua, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, and parts of North Sumatra and North Sulawesi. Most Muslims are Sunni, although there are adherents of the Shi'a, Amadhiyah, Sufi, and other branches of Islam. The mainstream Muslim community roughly is divided into two groups: urban "modernists" who closely adhere to scriptural orthodox theology while embracing modern learning and modern concepts; and rural, predominantly Javanese "traditionalists" who are led by charismatic religious scholars and who often are organized around Islamic boarding schools. The "modernists" are represented by the 35 million strong Muhammadiyah social organization, which has branches throughout the country. The "traditionalists" are represented by the 40 million strong Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) social organization, which is concentrated in Java.
There also are small numbers of messianic Islamic groups, including the Malaysian-affiliated Darul Arqam and the Indonesian Jamaah Salamulla (or Salamulla Congregation). The latter, led by a woman who claims to have been appointed by the Angel Gabriel, is thought to have approximately 100 members. Amadhiyah followers claim that their leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an Indian Muslim prophet and that anyone can become a prophet. The Amadhiyahs have 242 branches spread throughout much of the country; there are 8 Amadhiyah mosques in Jakarta. There also are approximately 50 Shi'a groups in the country. Another messianic group, Negara Islam Indonesia (NII), increased its informal recruitment and is campaigning to turn the country into an Islamic state. The NII traces its origins to an armed movement that was defeated by the military in the 1960s.
Most Christians reside in the eastern part of the country. Roman Catholicism is predominant in much of East Nusa Tenggara province and in southeast Maluku province, while Protestantism is predominant in the central part of Maluku province and in North Maluku and in North Sulawesi provinces. In Papua Protestants predominate in the north, and Catholics in the south--this situation is the result of a Dutch colonial policy, continued by the Indonesian Government after independence, of dividing the territory between foreign Catholic and Protestant missionaries. Other significant Christian populations are located in North Sumatra, the seat of the Batak Protestant Church. There also are significant Christian populations in West Kalimantan (mostly Catholic) and Central Kalimantan (mostly Protestant) and on Java. Many urban ethnic Chinese citizens adhere to Christian faiths or combine Christianity with Buddhism or Confucianism.
Representatives of the Jehovah's Witnesses state that there are approximately 16,500 adherents in the country, not including children, and that an equal number are actively studying the religion. There are no independent estimates available.
Over the past 3 decades, internal migration, both government-sponsored and spontaneous, has altered the demography of the country. In particular it has increased the percentage of Muslims in the predominantly Christian eastern part of the country. By the early 1990's, Christians became a minority for the first time in some areas of the Moluccas. Some Christians believe that the Government intentionally has sought to alter the demographic balance of the eastern part of the country by resettling Muslims in the area and providing various subsidies for those who settled spontaneously. While government-sponsored transmigration of citizens from heavily populated Java, Madura and Bali to more sparsely populated areas of the country contributed to the increase in the Muslim population in the areas of resettlement, there is no evidence to suggest that creating a Muslim majority in Christian areas was the objective of this policy, and most Muslim migration was spontaneous. Regardless of its intent, the economic consequences of the transmigration policy contributed to the current religious conflicts in Papua, the Moluccas and Sulawesi.
Most Hindus live in Bali, where they account for over 90 percent of the population. Balinese Hinduism has developed various local characteristics that distinguish it from Hinduism as practiced on the Indian subcontinent. There also is a significant Hindu minority (called "Keharingan") in Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan, East Java, Lampung (Sumatra), the city of Medan (North Sumatra), South and Central Sulawesi, and Lombok (West Nusatenggara). Some of these Hindus left Bali for these areas as part of the government's transmigration program. The Hindu Association, Pansada Hindu Dharma (PHDI), estimates that Medan is home to approximately 4,000 ethnic Chinese Hindus. Hindu groups such as Hare Krishna also are present in the country. In addition there are some indigenous faiths, including the Keharingan in Central Kalimantan (site of the first Hindu Kingdom in the country) and the "Naurus" on Seram Island (Maluku province). The Naurus practice a combination of Hindu and animist beliefs, and many also have adapted some Protestant principles.
Among the country's Buddhists, an estimated 70 percent practice the Mahayana school. Theravada followers account for another 20 percent, with the remaining adherents belonging to the Tantrayana, Tridharma, Kasogatan, Nichiren, and Maitreya schools. According to the Indonesian Youth Buddhist Council (MBI), 40 percent of the country's Buddhists are ethnic Chinese. The MBI was part of the Indonesian Great Sangha Conference (KASI). Another and somewhat older Buddhist organization active nationally is the Indonesian Buddhist Council (WALUBI), which has affiliates from all of the schools. Relations between the WALUBI and the KASI deteriorated during the period covered by this report. The WALUBI members were angered by the cancellation of a presidential visit, which is widely believed to have been orchestrated by the KASI, to the Borobudur temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java during the May 2002 Waisak festival.
The number of adherents of Confucianism in the country is unclear. The national census, carried out every 5 years, no longer enables respondents to identify themselves as Confucian. But in 1976-1977, the last year in which the category was included, 0.7 percent of the population was self-identified as Confucian, according to the Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia (MATAKIN). Since that census the proportion of practicing Confucians probably has increased slightly, because the Government's decision to lift restrictions on Confucianism has made it easier to practice Confucianism. The MATAKIN estimates that 95 percent of the country's Confucians are ethnic Chinese, with the balance being mostly indigenous Javanese. The majority of Confucians are located on Java, Bangka Island, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and North Maluku. Many Confucians also practice Buddhism and Christianity. Before the ban on Confucianism was lifted in 2000, Confucian temples usually were located inside Buddhist temples.
Animism and other types of traditional belief systems, generically termed "Aliran Kepercayaan," still are practiced in Java, Kalimantan, and Papua. Many of those who practice Kepercayaan describe it as more of a meditation-based spiritual path than a religion. Many animists combine their beliefs with one of the Government-recognized religions.
There are several dozen Jews in Surabaya, East Java, where the nation's only synagogue is located. A member of that congregation stated that many of its members are senior citizens, but due to natural attrition, the size of the congregation is declining. There also is a small Jewish community in Jakarta.
Falun Gong estimates that it has 2,000 to 3,000 followers in the country. Representatives of the group state that 25 percent of the group's members are of Chinese descent. The country's largest Falun Gong gatherings reportedly occur in Bali.
There are no data available on the religious affiliations of foreign nationals and immigrants.
A limited number of foreign, primarily Christian, missionaries operate in predominantly Christian areas in regions such as Papua and Kalimantan.
Section II: Status of Religious Freedom
The Constitution provides for "all persons the right to worship according to his or her own religion or belief," and states that "the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God" and the Government generally respects these provisions; however, there are some restrictions on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs extends official status to only five faiths--Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Religious organizations other than the five recognized faiths are able to register with the Government, but only with the State Ministry for Culture and Tourism, and only as social organizations. This results in restrictions on certain types of religious activities and on religions with fewer domestic followers. While the Government had in recent years taken steps to normalize the status of Confucians and Jehovah's Witnesses, it failed to accord them and members of other less-represented faiths equal treatment, in such areas as civil registration. Religions that are not permitted to register are precluded from renting venues to hold services. Any religion that cannot register is forced to find alternative means to practice their faith.
The Government permits the practice of the indigenous belief system of Kepercayaan, but only as a cultural manifestation, and not as a religion; followers of "Aliran Kepercayaan" must register with the Ministry of Education's Department of National Education. Some religious minorities--specifically those of the Baha'i Faith and the Rosicrucians--were allowed to operate openly, following a May 2000 decree that lifted a ban on their activities. Other minority faiths such as Zoroastrianism, Shintoism and Taoism legally also are permitted.
Although Islam is the religion of the vast majority of the population, the country is not an Islamic state. Over the past 50 years, many fundamentalist Islamic groups sporadically have sought to establish an Islamic state, but the country's mainstream Muslim community, including influential organizations such as the Muhammadiyah and the NU, continued to reject the idea. Proponents of an Islamic state argued unsuccessfully in 1945 and throughout the parliamentary democracy period of the 1950's for the inclusion of language (the so-called "Jakarta Charter") in the Constitution's preamble, making it obligatory for Muslims to follow Shari'a. During the Suharto regime, advocacy of an Islamic state was forbidden. With the loosening of restrictions on freedom of speech and religion that followed the fall of Suharto in May 1998, proponents of the "Jakarta Charter" have resumed their advocacy efforts. The secular political parties and appointed police, military, and functional representatives, who together hold a majority of the seats in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), (which has the power to change the Constitution), oppose proposals to amend the Constitution to include Shari'a. The Muhammadiyah, the NU and many prominent Muslim clerics also oppose such a change.
Shari'a was a source of intense national debate and concern during the period covered by this report. During 2001 Parliament enacted legislation that granted Aceh, a Muslim province on the northwestern tip of Sumatra, Special Autonomy Status. As part of this status, authority for the province to implement Shari'a was announced on January 1, 2002. Permission for Aceh's regional legislature to apply Shari'a in the province was granted, as long as the application of Shari'a did not violate national law. Although the central Government spoke of having "granted" Islamic law to Aceh, there was disagreement among legal scholars over the legality of Shari'a in Aceh. By the end of the period covered by this report, the Acehnese parliament did not pass the necessary legislation for Shari'a to be implemented. If the enabling legislation is passed, it would allow Aceh to establish a court system based on Shari'a. Individuals sentenced under Shari'a in Aceh will have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court. The new law also will allow the Acehnese to restrict the freedom to choose one's religion; for example, Muslims would be forbidden to convert. The Government also has assured the public that Shari'a law would not apply to non-Muslims in Aceh, but debate in the People's Representative Assembly (DPR) continues over whether Shari'a would apply to all Acehnese residents or only to Muslims.
In light of the Government's decision to allow Aceh to apply aspects of Shari'a and the implementation of national legislation granting greater regional autonomy (Law 22/1999 on Regional Autonomy and Presidential Decree 25/2000), a number of provincial parliaments were deliberating whether to impose Shari'a law in their provinces during the period covered by this report. In October 2000, Muslim leaders in South Sulawesi issued a statement that Muslims in the province were ready to accept Shari'a law, and they formed a committee (the KPPSI) to prepare for its implementation. On April 24, 2001, the KPPSI issued the "Makassar Declaration" announcing the enactment of Shari'a law in South Sulawesi and forwarded the document to the DPR Chairman, Akbar Tandjung, for parliamentary consideration and approval. The declaration was pending at the end of the period covered by this report. Provincial legislatures in Banten (Java), Gorontolo (Sulawesi), Maluku, North Maluku, Riau (Sumatra), and South Kalimantan provinces also were considering implementation of Shari'a.
The Government requires that official religions comply with a number of Ministry of Religious Affairs and other ministerial directives in their registration and activities. Among these are the Regulation on Building Houses of Worship (Joint-Ministerial Decree No. 1/1969); the Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion (Ministerial Decision No. 70/1978); Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions in Indonesia (Ministerial Decision No. 20/1978); and Proselytizing Guidelines (No. 77/1978).
The law allows conversion between faiths, and such conversions do occur, although some converts to minority religions feel compelled not to publicize the event for family and social reasons. However, there is a legal requirement to adhere to the official state ideology, Pancasila, and because its first tenet is belief in one supreme God, atheism is forbidden.
Religious instruction is required for students in elementary and secondary public schools. In theory students are free to choose from five types of classes, representing the five recognized faiths--Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism and Hinduism. However, in practice few schools offer classes in all of the officially recognized faiths, and in many schools only one class was offered. Consequently, a Muslim boy in a Catholic-majority region, for example, might be unable to avoid receiving religious instruction in Catholicism at school and vice versa. Although school enrollment is not a point of contention, the fact that interdenominational courses are not always available, make some members of minority religions resent having to subject their children to what they call "indoctrination."
There are 13 political parties directly or partially affiliated with Islam: the United Development Party (PPP); the Star and Crescent Party (PBB); the Justice Party (PK); the Indonesian Muslim Awakening Party (KAMI); the Islamic Members' Party (PUI); the People's Development Party (PKU); the Masyumi Islamic Political Party (PPIM); the New Masyumi Party (Masyumi Baru); the United Islamic Party (PSII 1905); the Nahdlatul Members Party (PNU); the Unity Party (PP); the Democratic Islamic Party (PID), and the National United Solidarity Party (PSUN). Former leaders of the Muhammadiyah and the NU led nationalist parties, the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB), which attempted to draw heavily on grass-roots support from their former Islamic social organizations.
The country has three Christian parties: the National Indonesian Christian Party (KRISNA); the Catholic Democratic Party (PKD); and the Democratic People's Devotion Party (PDKB). There is only one Buddhist party: the Indonesian Buddhist Party (Partai Budis Indonesia, or PARBUDI). Members of the Buddhist group KASI reportedly plan to form a party called the Buddhist Democratic Party of Indonesia (Partai Buddha Demokrat Indonesia). In the 1999 elections, the 3 Christian parties received relatively few votes, while the 15 Muslim parties together garnered approximately 30 percent of the vote. Of the Muslim parties, those with moderate views on the role of Islam in government and society dominated. Parties that strongly advocated an Islamization of government policy won a small percentage of the vote and few parliamentary seats.
Within the armed forces, religious facilities and programs are provided at all major housing complexes for members of the five officially recognized religions. These facilities and programs were overseen by the Center for Mental Development. Each branch of the armed forces had an Agency for Mental Development chaired by a Chief of Spiritual Development. Christians often have their own prayer groups that meet on Fridays, coinciding with the Muslim prayer day. In the past, there was a dedicated Religious Corps in the military, with all faiths represented, but it was eliminated during the Suharto regime. Some officers are qualified as preachers and perform this function as a voluntary additional duty, but civilian religious leaders conduct most religious services on military posts. Organized services and prayer meetings are available for members of each recognized religion. Although every military housing complex was required to provide a mosque, a Catholic Church, a Protestant Church, and worship centers for Buddhists and Hindus, smaller compounds rarely offered facilities for all five recognized religions, in part because no adherents to the smaller faiths were represented at every facility.
Religious groups and social organizations must obtain permits to hold religious concerts or other public events. Permits usually are granted in an unbiased manner, unless there is concern that the activity could anger members of another faith who live in the area.
Religious speeches are permitted if they are delivered to coreligionists and are not intended to convert persons of other faiths. However, televised religious programming is not restricted, and viewers can watch religious programs offered by any of the recognized faiths. In addition to many Muslim programs, ranging from religious instruction to talk shows on family issues, there are many Christian programs, including ones featuring televangelists, as well as programs by and for Buddhists and Hindus.
Some Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist holidays are celebrated as national holidays. Muslim holidays celebrated during the period covered by this report included: the Ascension of the Prophet (October 4); Idul Fitri (December 6 and 7); Idul Adah (February 23); the Muslim New Year (March 15); and the Prophet's Birthday (May 25). Nationally celebrated Christian holidays were: Christmas Day (December 25); Good Friday (March 29), and the Ascension of Christ (May 9). Two other national holidays were the Hindu holiday Nyepi (March 25) and the Buddhist holiday Waisak (May 29). The Chinese New Year (February 25), celebrated by Confucians, was decreed a permanent national holiday, beginning in 2003.
A number of government officials, and prominent religious and political leaders, were involved in, or supported, a number of interfaith groups, including the Society for Interreligious Dialog (MADIA), the Indonesian Anti-Discrimination Movement (GANDI); the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP); the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (also ICRP); the Institute for Interfaith Dialog (Interfidei); and the Indonesian Forum for Peace (FID).
The Government has stated that improvements in religious freedom and interfaith dialog should be promoted. According to the Government's current 5-year Broad Outline of State Policy the central Government should: ensure all laws and regulations are in accordance with religious principles; increase religious harmony and interfaith dialog; encourage descriptive rather than dogmatic religious education; and increase the role and function of religious institutions to overcome the difficulties of social transition and to strengthen interreligious and interethnic harmony.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
During the period covered by this report, certain policies, laws, and official actions restricted religious freedom, and the police and military occasionally tolerated discrimination against and abuse of religious groups by private actors.
Because the first tenet of the country's national doctrine, Pancasila, is the belief in one supreme God, atheism is prohibited; however, there were no reports of the repression of atheists.
On June 1, 2001, the Ministry of Justice revoked the decision by the Attorney General which put a ban on Jehovah's Witnesses practicing their faith. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Trinitarian Christians instigated the government bans and that perhaps some mainstream Christian leaders influenced government bias against the group. Jehovah's Witnesses report that they continued to experience difficulty registering marriages, enrolling children in school, and in other civil matters in some but not all areas of the country. However, over the last few years, adherents have been able to obtain police permits to hold meetings in hotels and other public sites.
Certain messianic Islamic groups faced restrictions on their religious freedom during the period covered by this report. An official ban on the activities of the groups Jamaah Salamullah, Ahmadiyah, and Darul Arqam remained in effect, based on a 1994 "fatwa" edict, (a religious decree), by the National Ulemas Council (MUI). However, the Government still has not enforced the ban, enabling the groups to stay in operation through the formation of companies that distribute "halal" goods. There have been reports in the past that the authorities monitored Islamic groups considered to be deviating from orthodox tenets; in some cases closely. It is not known whether such monitoring occurred during the period covered by this report. In May 2001, a mob vandalized the Jamaah Salamulla retreat in West Java (see Section III). The local village head had issued orders for group followers to vacate the area because their beliefs were "deviant," and because they were disturbing the neighborhood.
The Government continued to restrict the construction and expansion of houses of worship, and maintained an ostensible ban on the use of private homes for worship unless the community approved and a regional office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs provided a license. Some Protestants complained that community approval was difficult to obtain and alleged that in some areas, Muslim authorities were systematically trying to shut them out. A government decree has been used to prohibit the construction and expansion of churches and to justify the closure of churches in predominantly Muslim areas. Although the regulations implemented under the decree apply to all recognized religions, minority groups--especially Protestant--claim that the law is enforced only on religious minorities, and that minority faiths have difficulty obtaining the proper licenses and permits to build houses of worship. Christians claim that the law is not enforced on Muslim communities, which they assert often do not apply for the permits before constructing a mosque.
Even when the proper permits are obtained, some Christian groups encounter difficulties in constructing or reconstructing churches. For example, in 2001 a Muslim mob attacked and destroyed a Pentecostal church that was under construction in North Jakarta, even though the church had all the required permits. The local authorities did nothing to redress the situation or resolve the problem, except to suggest that the church be relocated elsewhere. In November 2000, the director of the local government Social-Political Affairs (Kakansospol) Office on Lombok Island ordered the closure of eight churches in Mataram on the grounds that the churches had not obtained the proper permits, and the activities of the churches disturbed the peace in what were predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. During the period covered by the report a church in West Jakarta was closed and was ordered to move by the Governor, who stated that the presence of the church had disturbed Muslim neighbors, and that a youth group from a nearby mosque opposed the idea of having the church so close to the mosque. In some cases, even when the building or expansion permits were obtained, Muslim mobs attacked the church grounds, forcing the Christian worshippers to close their building project. Meanwhile, some Muslims expressed concern about evangelization in traditionally Muslim areas and questioned the need for separate churches for different denominations.
The Ministry of Religion occasionally monitors the attendance of followers of minority faiths at their places of worship. In a few reported cases, Ministry officials asked the leaders of churches why their membership was low, suggesting that perhaps the church should close down if it had few members. However, many of the restrictions or bans on minority religions or on nonmainstream subsets of leading religions occurred at the provincial or district (Kabupaten) level. In some cases, local religious organizations issued the bans on minority religions or groups (see Section III); however, the Government did nothing to challenge these bans. Some religious minority leaders expressed concern that the onset of decentralization and enhanced regional autonomy in the country, which is to empower provincial and district governments, might result in issuance of regulations by local officials that could erode the right of minorities to practice their religions. For example, the Central Sulawesi branch of the MUI, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), issued an edict banning Hare Krishna in the province. The chief public prosecutor's office in Bali issued a ruling in January 2001 that the local ban on Hare Krishna would remain in place because Hare Krishna practices "disturbed the peaceful lifestyle of Balinese Hindus" (see Section III). Some mainstream Balinese Hindus had lobbied the local public prosecutor's office to reinforce the ban on Hare Krishna.
The Government prohibits proselytizing by recognized religions on the grounds that such activity, especially in areas heavily dominated by another recognized religion, potentially is disruptive. A joint decree issued by the Ministries of Religion and Home Affairs in 1979 remained in effect. It prohibits members of one religion from trying to convert members of other faiths, including through bribes, persuasion, or distribution of religious materials. Door-to-door proselytizing also remained prohibited. However, the country's laws allow for conversion between faiths, and such conversions do occur. Converts to religions other than Islam usually are silent about their change in faith, and there is no data on the numbers of conversions.
Foreign religious organizations must obtain permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to provide any type of assistance (in-kind, personnel, and financial) to religious groups in the country. Although this requirement is generally not enforced, some Christian groups state that it is applied more frequently to minority groups, including Christians, and that the requirement rarely is applied to mainstream Muslim groups.
Foreign missionaries are required to obtain work visas, which some described as difficult to obtain or extend. Foreign missionaries who obtained visas were able to work relatively unimpeded although there have been restrictions imposed in conflict areas. However, to obtain permission for a visa the Government requires applicants to submit: a letter from the applicant's sponsor; a letter from the Indonesian Embassy in the applicant's country allowing the applicant to obtain a temporary stay visa (VBS); a curriculum vitae; evidence demonstrating that the applicant has skill that a citizen cannot offer; a letter of approval from the Ministry's provincial director; a letter of support from the Director General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs who handles matters concerning the applicant's religion; a letter from the receiving religious institution, confirming that the applicant will work no more than 2 years in the country before he/she will be replaced by a local citizen who will obtain training in the same skill; statistical information on the number of followers of the religion in the community; permission from regional security authorities for those who wish to extend their Temporary Stay Permission Card; and written approval from a Provincial or District Ministry of Religion Office, after the office consults with local government authorities. However, many missionaries work without such visas.
There are no restrictions on the publication of religious materials and religious literature may be printed and religious symbols may be used. However, the Government bans the dissemination of these materials to persons of other faiths. In previous years, the Government banned some books because of their religious content; however, there were no such reports during the period covered by this report.
Citizens must indicate their religion on the national identification cards (KTPs). It is obligatory to list a religion to receive a KTP, and failure to list a religion can make it impossible to obtain the identity card that is required for employment. The Civil Registration Office routinely refused to give members of minority religions a KTP that showed their religion. Some Jews ended up listing Islam as their religion, and some Confucians resorted to identifying themselves as Buddhists. Some followers of minority religions were denied KTPs on the basis of their religion, and subsequently encountered difficulty finding work. Others, including some of the Kepercayaan faith, were issued KTPs with only a dash in the space for religion. According to advocates this sometimes made the holders of such cards less attractive as job applicants, because employers would look upon their identification card with suspicion. Members of minority religions who, in conflict areas, are stopped at civilian "checkpoints" and are asked to produce identification, face some danger due to the religious notation on their identity cards. If a person's KTP shows that the bearer adheres to a faith that is out of favor with the local population, there is a risk of violence at such checkpoints.
Several groups urged the Government to omit the category of religion from KTPs, including the Buddhist group the KASI and the PMII, an Islamic student movement within the NU. However, little if any progress was made by these groups during the period covered by this report. Activists noted bureaucratic resistance to change, and stated that the Muslim majority saw no need to lift the requirement. The Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted as saying that listing a person's religion on national identity cards is necessary so that if a citizen dies and is not claimed by relatives, the authorities will be able to ensure appropriate treatment for the remains. A 3-day conference on civil registration was held in Jakarta in May 2002, sponsored by the GANDI, the UNICEF and other organizations.
Government employees must swear their allegiance to the nation and to the country's national ideology, Pancasila, the first tenet of which is the belief in one supreme God.
Within the armed forces, there were restrictions on religious freedom during the period covered by this report. Ethnoreligious representation in the general officer corps generally is proportional to the religious affiliation of the population at large; Javanese Muslims (the largest single ethnic group) dominate, but Christians are well represented in the general officer ranks (perhaps reflecting generally higher educational standards among the Christian communities). However, some allege that promotion to the most senior ranks for Christians and other minorities is limited by a "glass ceiling." Many Christian officers complain openly about this glass ceiling. However, there is little proof to support this as evidenced by the fact that there isa Christian who is currently serving as a Navy Commander, and a Christian has been overall Armed Forces Commander in the past. In addition there are Hindu generals in the Armed Forces.
Many members of minority religions stated that they were unable to register their marriages at the Civil Registration Office (Kantor Catatan Sipil) because they did not belong to one of the five officially recognized faiths. Such complaints were made by Animists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Confucians, and members of the Baha'i Faith, among others. Despite being among the officially recognized faiths, Hindus stated that they frequently had to travel long distances in order to have their marriages registered, because in many rural areas the local government could not or would not perform the registration. Men and women of different religions also had trouble marrying and officially registering their marriages. Independent observers note that it has become increasingly difficult to obtain official recognition for interfaith marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims. Religiously mixed couples first must find a religious official willing to perform a marriage ceremony (which is not an easy task, according to interfaith groups), then try to register the union with the Government. The difficulties faced by members of unrecognized religions and religiously mixed couples in registering their marriages resulted in some persons converting, sometimes superficially, in order to get married. Others who could afford to, traveled to Singapore or Hong Kong, where they wed and then registered the marriage at an Indonesian Embassy. Many of the religious communities that suffered discrimination in marriage registration also encountered difficulties in registering their children's births. Confucians had special difficulty in registering births. According to the MATAKIN, a Confucian advocacy group, births to Confucian women are recorded at the Civil Registration Office as being out of wedlock. Only the mother's name is recorded, not the father's, causing shame or embarrassment.
The law does not discriminate against any religious group in employment, education, housing, and health; however, some religious minority groups allege that there is de facto discrimination that limits their access to top government jobs and slots at public universities. Some religious minority groups also contend that promotion opportunities for non-Muslims in the military and the police decreased. Muslim groups continue to press the Government to grant employment preferences to Muslims, the majority group. Vocal segments of the Muslim community called for a form of affirmative action for "Islamic" civil servants and businessmen, which is intended to rectify the Suharto regime's preferential economic treatment of a very small minority of ethnic Chinese citizens.
In Aceh many religious leaders insisted that there were no plans to institute stricter aspects of Shari'a than are found in the hudud (strict traditional punishments for criminal or social offenses, such as the amputation of limbs or stoning). However, some Muslim scholars argue that there is nothing in the draft legislation that would forbid the application of Shari'a punishments (hudud) to any crimes. Shari'a requires Muslim men and women to abide by Muslim dress codes, which include requiring women to cover their head, legs, and arms in public. However, there was no evidence that any Muslims--or non-Muslims--had been punished for dress-code violations during the period covered by this report. Shortly after the authority to implement Shari'a was announced for Aceh, police in the capital, Banda Aceh, stopped a number of women who were riding on motorbikes and not wearing head scarves. The Muslim women were given headscarves, but they were not forced to wear them. This practice did not last long. Some residents claimed that this incident was intended to attract publicity. In another incident, women's rights activists reportedly succeeded in halting a plan to create a scarf-compulsory zone for women in Banda Aceh. The original decision, announced through the media, allegedly was made by the security forces.
In other fundamentalist Islamic strongholds, attempts by local legislators and religious leaders to follow Aceh's lead so far have had little result, in part because other provinces and municipalities did not share Aceh's legislative prerogatives, and because there was organized political opposition. For example, a coalition of secular parties and women's groups prompted the provincial legislature of West Sumatra to reject a bill that would have incorporated elements of Islamic law into the civil code. Stricter Islamic legal practices were introduced informally in Cianjur and Garut, West Java, in Makassar in South Sulawesi, and in Gorontalo (formerly part of North Sulawesi). In some cases, local officials encouraged these developments; in others, they remained neutral or tacitly against it. In some other Muslim majority areas, Islamic norms were adopted. In north Maluku, for example, some towns virtually were closed for Friday prayers, and Christian legislators were afraid to visit.
Assurances by Muslim and local government leaders that non-Muslims had nothing to fear from Shari'a, as it would not be applied to them, largely were rejected by non-Muslims. There was deep-seated concern among mainstream Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and others, that the implementation of Shari'a would undermine the country's tradition of religious tolerance and plurality. Some worried that women's rights would be endangered. Others complained that Shari'a was being used for political ends (in the case of Aceh, to erode support for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) of Muslim separatists). A number of Christians and Muslim moderates have expressed serious concern that these efforts to implement Shari'a foreshadow a growing influence of fundamentalist Islamic ideas.
Several small fundamentalist Islamic groups called for the national adoption of Shari'a by adding a sentence to the Constitution stating that there is an "obligation for Muslims to adhere to the Islamic faith"--the so-called Jakarta Charter. This was the latest in a long string of attempts by some fundamentalist Muslims to have a Shari'a requirement added into the Constitution. Among those opposing changes to the Constitution were the two largest Muslim organizations, the NU and the Muhammadiyah, as well as Christian, Buddhist, Confucian and Hindu organizations.
In May 2002, the mayor of West Jakarta was embroiled in controversy after issuing a municipal decree requiring Muslim students at public and private elementary schools, and junior and senior high schools to wear Muslim attire on Fridays. Non-Muslim students were required to wear a tie with their usual uniform. The ensuing uproar resulted in the lifting of the requirement. A spokesman for the mayoralty said the regulation was intended to make students, especially female students, wear "polite clothes" instead of the miniskirts that currently were in vogue. The plan also allegedly was intended to reduce the high number of student brawls in the area, because it was thought that it would be embarrassing for students to fight while wearing Islamic garb.
Marriage law for Muslims is based on Shari'a (Islamic law) and allows men to have up to four wives if the husband is able to provide equally for each of them. Court permission and the consent of the first wife is required; however, reportedly most women cannot refuse subsequent marriages. Cabinet officials and military personnel customarily have been forbidden from taking second wives, although reportedly a few ministers in former President Wahid's cabinet had second wives. During 2000 Government Regulation 10/1983, which stipulates that a male civil servant must receive the permission of his superior to take a second wife, came under considerable attack and renewed scrutiny. The Minister of State for Women's Empowerment, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, proposed that the regulation be revoked or modified, arguing that supervisors often use the regulation as leverage over subordinates, and that the regulation is an embarrassment to women. She also asserted that many men avoid the regulation by establishing illicit relationships. Other women, including former First Lady Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid, opposed revoking the regulation, arguing that it protects women. Some women's groups urged the Government to ban polygyny altogether.
In divorce cases, women often bear a heavier evidentiary burden than men in obtaining a divorce, especially in the Islamic-based family court system. Divorced women rarely receive alimony, and there is no enforcement of alimony payment. According to Shari'a, as interpreted in the country, a divorced wife is entitled to only 3 months of alimony, and even alimony for this brief period is not always granted.
Abuses of Religious Freedom
Religious violence and the lack of an effective government response to punish perpetrators and prevent further attacks continued to lead to allegations that officials were complicit in some of the violence or, at a minimum, allowed it to occur with impunity. Although the President and other officials repeatedly have criticized instances of interreligious violence, the government's efforts to end or reduce such violence generally continued to be ineffective. The Government at times has tolerated the abuse of freedom of religion, claiming that it does not have the capacity or authority to deal with the "emotions" of private individuals or groups who target others because of their beliefs. According to credible reports, during 2000 and 2001, individual members of the security forces in the Moluccas, especially on the centrally located island of Ambon, were responsible for some of the shooting deaths that occurred during widespread riots and communal clashes.
During the period covered by this report, interreligious and interethnic violence in the Moluccas and Sulawesi continued, although at a lower level than in 2000 and early 2001. In the Moluccas, Central Sulawesi, Papua, and Kalimantan, economic tensions between local or native persons (predominantly non-Muslim) and more recently arrived migrants (predominantly Muslim), who were seen by indigenous communities as economically advantaged, were a significant factor in incidents of interreligious and interethnic violence.
In the Moluccas, where the population is roughly equally divided between Muslims and Christians, at least 100 persons were killed and over 300,000 persons were displaced due to violence between Muslims and Christians during the period covered by this report. According to some estimates, the number of those displaced could be as high as 425,000 or even higher. The violence was exacerbated by outside groups, most notably the Java-based Muslim group Laskar Jihad, (or "holy war troops"), which sent thousands of fighters to the Moluccas in 2000 to fight alongside local Muslims who were fighting local Christians. The Laskar Jihad's intervention gave the Muslims the upper hand in many areas where Christians had been equal to or stronger than their Muslim neighbors. The partiality of some members of the armed forces and police, who at times supported either Muslim or Christian groups depending upon their own religious loyalties or provincial origins, also contributed to the violence. Nonetheless, the overall level of violence in the Moluccas declined during the period covered by this report, with fewer wide-scale attacks but more bombings and targeted strikes.
The Laskar Jihad, which formed in 2000 and underwent paramilitary training, continued its crusade against the Moluccan Christian populations, allegedly in reaction to a Christian conspiracy to turn Maluku province into an independent Christian nation. Many of its recruits, some of whom were children, were deployed to Maluku and North Maluku provinces beginning in late April 2000, where they reportedly joined in fighting against Christians. The Government generally failed to prevent their activities.
In July 2000, the acting governor of North Maluku started expelling militant Laskar Jihad troops from the province. However, the governor of Maluku took no similar action, claiming that it was the responsibility of Jakarta to order the expulsion of the militants. A major factor contributing to the continuation of violence in these two provinces was the failure of the Government and security forces to bring the perpetrators to justice or to prevent (and then deport) several thousand armed Laskar Jihad militants from Java who had joined forces with Muslims in various parts of the two provinces (see Section III).
From July to November 2000, the Government largely was ineffective in deterring interreligious violence that led to over 1,000 deaths, thousands of injuries, and tens of thousands of displaced persons in the Moluccas. Enforcement of the law against criminal violence deteriorated, encouraging religious groups purporting to uphold public morality to act with growing impunity. In some incidents security forces took sides in the conflict and participated in the violence; in others the forces stood by while Christian and Muslim civilians battled one another. According to many Christian leaders, the anti-Christian sentiment behind the violence in the Moluccas and elsewhere is not new, but the failure of the Government to punish the perpetrators associated with such acts is new. They claim that such impunity contributed significantly to the continuation and spread of the violence. However, perpetrators--Laskar Jihad members in particular--rarely were detained and when they were, they typically were released after supporters rallied in demand of their release and threatened police. In addition the Government failed to suppress or respond to most cases of violence and did not resolve fully the many cases of attacks on religious facilities that occurred during riots. In many cases, the Government did not investigate such incidents at all.
On Christmas Eve 2000, unknown terrorists bombed or attempted to bomb 34 Christian churches in 10 cities in 8 provinces and special districts. Nineteen citizens died from the blasts, including Muslims guarding the churches, and 84 persons were injured. The Government formed a special interagency team to investigate the bombings, and the NGO Indonesian Forum for Peace (FID) formed a joint factfinding team with the Government to investigate the Christmas Eve church bombings. On June 28, 2001, the Bandung District Court sentenced Agus Kurniawan to 9 years in prison for his role in the bombings. Another suspect also was on trial for involvement in the bombings at the end of the period covered by this report. Former President Wahid and various religious leaders publicly stated their belief that the coordinated bombings were politically, not religiously, motivated to destabilize the country and undermine Wahid's government and reform efforts.
In April 2001, local courts sentenced to death three Christian prisoners who were found guilty of killing hundreds of Muslims and inciting religious hatred in Poso, Central Sulawesi between May and June 2000. Confessions and evidence supported the prosecution's case that the three prisoners, who were Christian militia leaders, were guilty; however, the prisoners and some of their supporters alleged that the trials were religiously motivated because while they were sentenced to death, Muslim militia who had killed Christians and been arrested were released from detention under pressure from Muslim groups. In May 2001, a man was arrested in Luwu, Central Sulawesi for attempting to bomb three Christian churches.
During the second half of 2001, in Sulawesi, an estimated 25 persons were killed and 58,030 others were displaced. Between June and December 2001, Laskar Jihad members threw three bombs into 12 different Christian villages, causing the villagers to flee. After the villagers fled, members of Laskar Jihad ransacked the villages and razed them.
In December 2001, the Government deployed 4,000 elite soldiers and police officers to Sulawesi. That same month, the Government brought the Muslim and Christian communities together to negotiate. Their discussions, at Malino, produced the Malino Declaration (Malino I), which was signed on December 20, 2001. The arrival of the security forces and the implementation of Malino I greatly reduced the violence in Sulawesi, which began in late 1998.
However, on January 1, 2002 bombs exploded outside of three churches in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu. On June 5, 2002, a passenger bus packed with commuters in Central Sulawesi was bombed, killing five persons, including a Protestant minister. Although many suspected the Laskar Jihad might have been involved in the bus bombing, the Muslim militia group denied responsibility. Many persons had warned that Muslim militants would renew their attacks if the Government reduced the number of security forces in Central Sulawesi.
In February 2002, the Government hosted another round of talks in Malino that produced another agreement (Malino II) between Muslims and Christians to work for peace. The Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Jusuf Kalla, outlined the Malino II Peace Plan, which involved the disarming of local combatants; the rehabilitation and reconstruction of destroyed homes, schools and places of worship; and the removal of outsiders who had entered the area during the conflict. The Government has appointed a special commission to investigate the violence, unify reinforced police and military units under a single commander, and increase efforts to disarm the populace.
In early April 2002, the newly signed peace agreementsuffered a setback after a bombing killed 4 persons and injured 50 others in the Moluccas. Christian mobs angered by the seemingly one-sided policies of the authorities, which appeared to favor Muslims, burned down the Governor's office complex. These mobs also destroyed the main meeting place between Christians and Muslims in the partitioned city of Ambon. The offices of a number of international organizations and NGOs, including the UN headquarters, also were destroyed. Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs Yudhoyono instructed the authorities in Ambon to restore order and bring those responsible to trial. After order was restored, local Christian and Muslim leaders pledged to revive reconciliation talks and to take measures. However, on April 25, 2002, a well organized and peaceful demonstration by separatists set off another round of violence in Ambon. In response Muslim mobs opposed to the secessionists crossed into the Christian sector of the city and firebombed a church. Soon afterwards, Muslims were involved in a shootout with the police that left 2 Muslim protesters dead. Other explosions and shootings were heard throughout the city. Soon after these incidents, the leader of Laskar Jihad visited Ambon.
On April 28, 2002, dozens of hooded militiamen razed the Christian village of Soya, in Ambon, burned its church, and killed 12 persons. The Soya attack came hours after the Laskar Jihad commander, Ja'far Umar Thalib, delivered an inflammatory speech in which he stated that there would be no reconciliation with Christians and that Muslims had to prepare for armed combat. The Government, which had drawn criticism for failing to bring to justice perpetrators of the violence, and for failing to prevent the influx of thousands of Laskar Jihad fighters to the area, responded by arresting Thalib on May 4, 2002. Thalib's detention sparked violent confrontations in Maluku that left 2 persons dead.
In mid-May 2002, the commander of the elite Army Strategic Reserves (KOSTRAD), Ryamizard Ryacudu, who was overseeing the deployment of 3000 rapid reaction forces to Ambon, exhorted his troops to remain neutral. However, the following day, he ordered his troops to destroy the Republic of South Maluku (RMS) Christian separatist movement, urging his men not to be afraid to "kill them all" if necessary. At the same time, the Government has taken no action to force Laskar Jihad troops out of the region. On May 25, 2002, 5 Christians were killed and at least 9 others were wounded when unidentified attackers in two speedboats opened fire on a passenger ferry off of Haruku island.
In Sulawesi the violence was not restricted to Christians and Muslims during the period covered by this report. The central part of the island is home to many ethnic Balinese Hindus who were attacked by Muslims who accused them of helping Christians. The Hindus had, for example, refused Laskar Jihad the right to pass through their village. Other conflicts involving members of different religions occurred in various parts of the country during the period covered by this report, including disputes in Kalimantan between ethnic Madurese, who are predominantly Muslim, and indigenous Dayaks, who are predominantly Christian. The nature of these disputes primarily is ethnic, not religious, with economic and political overtones.
Although the conflict in Aceh is cast in religious overtones, the fighting is in fact due more to economic and ethnic tensions than religious intolerance. Despite Government claims that violence in Aceh virtually has ended, the GAM forces still operate widely in East and North Aceh. Regular military troops in the field are more disciplined than they were during 2000 and 2001. However, special plainclothes military units regularly kidnap, torture, and kill civilians and guerillas alike. Paramilitary "Brimob" police commit similar offenses. Recent negotiations between the GAM and the Government held in Geneva in May 2002 resulted in agreements to discuss a ceasefire and to conduct an "all-inclusive dialog" on the basis of Jakarta's Special Autonomy scheme. However, the GAM and Government representatives in Banda Aceh gave widely differing interpretations of the agreements. As of June 2002, violence continued, while progress towards a peaceful solution moved slowly. Nonetheless, negotiations have made modest progress.
Witnesses testified to human rights groups of incidents when active duty and retired military personnel participated in or stood by during the torture or executions of Christians who refused to convert to Islam in the Moluccas. Witnesses and victims also testified to human rights organizations that active duty military and police officials stood by while members of one religious group raped or mutilated members of another faith. There have been unconfirmed reports of mass forced conversions of Christians; however, these allegations diminished during the period covered by this report.
There were no religious prisoners or detainees.
Forced Religious Conversion
Unlike during the previous reporting period, there were no confirmed reports of forced religious conversions during the period covered by this report. This change coincided with a general deescalation of violence in the country's main areas of interreligious conflict (the Moluccas and Sulawesi). Laskar Jihad militants have forced Christians in some areas of the Moluccas either to convert to Islam, leave the area, or to face death. It is unknown how many Christians, if any, were actually executed by Laskar Jihad.Of the thousands of Christians and hundreds of Muslims who underwent forced conversions between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001 (many of whom had been threatened with death if they did not convert), most subsequently reverted to their former faith after government security forces established a presence in their communities. However, some locations, including the Christian majority community of Bula, on the Moluccan island of Seram, were deemed too remote for a security force presence to be established. During the period covered by this report, the religious status of Bula's 200 former Protestants was unclear. There were unconfirmed reports that local government officials, largely village heads, were complicit in some of the mass conversions in 2000 and 2001.
There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.
Improvements in Respect for Religious Freedom
The interreligious violence that began in the eastern part of the country in late 1998 and early 1999 resulted in thousands of deaths before easing in late 2001. In late 2001, the Government finally took action by brokering peace accords, effectively deploying troops, and cracking down on extremists. However, the Government was criticized for not acting sooner to halt the violence. Sulawesi and the Moluccas both began to experience periods of stability and relative peace. However, the calm owes little to the Malino II peace process and more to the massive deployment of forces that accompanied it, including the special police units that curtailed Laskar Jihad activities.
In June 2002, the Government established an independent team of investigators to probe the conflict in the Moluccas. The 14 member team consisted mainly of civil servants and was tasked to investigate several key incidents, including the clash between a resident and a driver on January 19, 1999, which initiated the conflict between Muslims and Christians.
To promote religious pluralism, President Megawati inaugurated an interfaith dialog in Yogyakarta on June 24, 2002. Among the participants were 120 religious leaders from different faiths.
Section III: Societal Attitudes
Religious intolerance increasingly was evident during the period covered by this report, and became a matter of growing concern to many Indonesians. Apart from the violence in the Moluccas and Central Sulawesi, religious intolerance occasionally manifested itself elsewhere in the country in the form of attacks on churches. During the second half of 2001, at least 30 churches were either forcibly closed or destroyed in Sulawesi, West Java, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Aceh and Buru Island. There were no reports of any mosques being destroyed during the period covered by this report.
Religious intolerance, especially on the part of Muslim extremists towards religious minorities, including Christians, increasingly was evident and became a matter of growing concern to many religious minority members and Muslim moderates. There was continued interreligious violence in the Moluccas, although at a lower level than in 2000 and 2001. Religious intolerance also manifested itself in numerous attacks on churches in various locations throughout the country.
Citizens generally tend to identify themselves and to interact with others on the basis of ethnicity, religion, race, or social class, and civil society is in a very nascent stage. The country is a multiethnic, multireligious society that, historically, has experienced outbursts of religious intolerance and violence.
There were numerous attacks on churches and some attacks on mosques in various locations throughout the country during 2000 and 2001, ranging from minor damage to total destruction; only a few cases, if any, were investigated thoroughly, and there were no reports of perpetrators being punished. In the second half of 2001, 29 churches were either forcibly closed or destroyed in Sulawesi, West Java, Jakarta, Yoyakarta, Semarang, and Buru Island. There also were unconfirmed reports of Christian church closures in the Acehnese district of Singkil. This represented a sharp decline from the 108 church closures and destructions reported in the previous 6 month period. Few if any of the latest attacks were investigated thoroughly by the authorities, and there were no reports of perpetrators being punished. According to the Indonesian Christian Communication Forum, from January 1999 to April 2001, 327 churches were closed or destroyed, while the Ministry of Religion reported that 254 mosques were attacked or destroyed during the same period. Most of the attacks and destruction occurred in the Moluccas. From July 1, 2000 to May 31, 2001, there were 108 reported incidents of destruction of churches (compared to 163 incidents reported in the previous period) including 21 attacks on churches in Java; 20 in Sumatra, 10 in Lombok; 9 in South, Central, and Southeast Sulawesi; and 5 in North Sumatra (Medan).
Attacks on mosques in the conflict-torn Moluccas continued during 2000 and 2001. However, there were no attacks on mosques reported during the period covered by this report. The Maluku provincial government reported that four mosques were attacked or destroyed in 2000 and 2001, while the North Maluku provincial government reported no attacks on mosques during the same time period. In late May 2001, a mob of allegedly pro-President Wahid supporters associated with the NU burned a mosque associated with rival Muhammadiyah followers in Pasuruan, East Java. Also in late May 2001, a mob of 400 persons vandalized the retreat of Jamaah Salamulla (an Islamic group) in Bogor, West Java.
In the easternmost province of Papua, Muslims constitute a religious minority (although in the districts of Sorong and Fakfak, Muslims account for roughly half of the population). The arrival of Muslim migrants from other parts of the country in the past has precipitated attacks on mosques. However, no mosque attacks in Papua were reported during the period covered by this report, although one mosque was shut down temporarily by the authorities until a tax matter was resolved. In Papua there are reports that the Muslim group Laskar Jihad is working with nationalist militias supported by members of the military and the police. These groups oppose Papuan separatism, which is a secular movement. The presence of Laskar Jihad, accompanied by some militant foreign Muslims, raised fears that the group would add to existing tensions by inciting religious conflict in the province.
Among factors contributing to religious intolerance, are underlying socioeconomic and political competition and tensions. In the Moluccas, Central Sulawesi, Papua and Kalimantan, economic tensions between local or native peoples (predominantly non-Muslim) and more recently arrived migrants (predominantly Muslim) were a significant factor in incidents of interreligious and interethnic violence.
Public expressions of Islam began to grow significantly in the early 1990s and increased after the fall of the Suharto government in 1998. The number of religious schools (pesantrens and madrasahs), mosques, Shari'a banks, and other businesses, civic groups, media outlets, and political parties associated with Islam (see Section II) all grew. Muslims continued to seek greater political empowerment through the country's Islamic political parties (the current number of Islamic parties, as opposed to the 13 that stood for election in 1999, is unknown), as well as through religious organizations. The number of stores selling Islamic attire and religious objects also continued to increase during the period covered by this report, and more women donned head scarves or "jilbab." In 2001 an estimated 193,000 citizens made the Hajj (Muslim pilgrimage)--up 19,000 from the previous year. In 2002 the number rose to an estimated 197,000, but this was below the expectations of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which predicted that the country would exceed its pilgrimage quota of 213,000 persons for the year. The Islamic publication, Sabili, which advocates obligatory adherence of Muslims to Shari'a law, was one of the country's top five magazines in circulation during the period covered by this report.
In general Islam in the country remained overwhelmingly moderate. However, with the removal of Suharto-era restrictions on religious organizations and expression, there have been some public calls by a minority of Muslims for the creation of an Islamic state. Only 7 to 10 percent of the country's Muslims advocate the creation of an Islamic state which would make it obligatory for Muslims to follow Shari'a law. The majority of these Muslims pursue their goal through peaceful means, but a small, vocal minority condones coercive measures and has resorted to violence. Extremist groups advocating coercion and resorting to violence include: Laskar Jihad, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Hizbullah Front, the Laskar Mujahidin, the Campus Association of Muslim Students (HAMMAS), the Jundullah Troops (Laskar Jundullah), the Islamic Youth Movement (GPI), and the Surakarta Islamic Youth Forum (FPIS). Many of the country's religious minorities expressed growing concern over what they perceived to be increasing demands by certain Muslim groups to impose Shari'a law in the country.
Since the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, there has been greater freedom of expression, and lewd material has become more widely available. Against this backdrop, some extremist groups have acted publicly to root out vice. The country's official Islamic authority, the MUI, conducted a campaign against domestic broadcasters and print media outlets, accusing them of increasingly disseminating lewd and pornographic materials. On March 7, 2002, hundreds of FPI members attacked a pool hall in the Casablanca area of south Jakarta. The attack came during the Muslim New Year, and the attackers accused the establishment of failing to respect the holiday. Hours earlier FPI members had approached bars and discos in central Jakarta and demanded that they close for the night. On June 26, 2002, approximately 200 FPI members smashed beer bottles, signs and windows in the popular Jaksa street area of Jakarta, in full view of the police, who merely stood by and did nothing in response. In December 2001, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the group raided pubs and cafes in Tebet, south Jakarta. Police criticized the attacks, but no FPI member was ever arrested. It is believed widely by the public that Jakarta police used FPI to enforce its protection rackets and as a result the police condoned or even directed its attacks. Before that night, during FPI "vice raids," the groups bypassed some bars and pool halls on the same street while obviously targeting others.
Political tensions among Muslim groups became more intense during 2000 and 2001, in particular between the 2 largest Muslim social organizations, the NU, which is associated politically with former President Wahid, and the Muhammadiyah, which is associated politically with Amien Rais Chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Muslim student groups also are divided along political lines. The Muslim Students' Action Front (KAMMI), the Association of Islamic Students (HMI), and the Intercampus Muslim Student Association (HAMMAS) opposed former President Wahid while the PMII, which is associated with the NU, supported Wahid. Some prominent Muslim interfaith organizations also were in part divided along political affiliations. Many of the Muslim members of the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (ICRP) were affiliated with the Muhammadiyah, while many of the Muslim members of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (also ICRP) were NU supporters.
Christians in various parts of the archipelago expressed fear over perceived attempts to "Islamize" the country, but there also was concern, mainly among Muslims, that Christians were trying to "Christianize" the country. Some complained that the number and activities of Christian fundamentalist groups were increasing, and that such groups were influenced and funded by foreign groups. Others argued that leaders of these "charismatic" Christian groups were aggressive proselytizers who did not respect the sensitivities of the country's Muslim majority. When radical Muslim groups alleged that there was a foreign Christian conspiracy to destabilize the country by attacking Muslims, moderate Muslim and Christian religious leaders and intellectuals stated that they were referring to these charismatic Christian groups.
Some extremist religious leaders--both Muslim and Christian--preached hatred against other religious groups and encouraged their followers to engage in violence against persons of other faiths. Following the May 2002 arrest of Laskar Jihad commander Thalib, several Islamic groups demanded that the Government reinvestigate the case of Theo Sya'fei, a Christian and a high-ranking official in the PDI-party. In November 1998 he had, like Thalib, made a provocative speech, which was recorded and distributed within the Christian community. Muslims claimed that Sya'fei's speech sparked a rampage in the city of Kupang, West Timor, which resulted in the destruction of 23 mosques, 7 schools, and 4 office buildings, and caused 4,000 Muslims to flee the area. During the period covered by this report, police were in the process of reopening the case against Sya'fei, although he had not been charged. Religious enmity also surfaced in the city of Makassar, in South Sulawesi. In October 2001, 6 non-Muslims were assaulted and severely beaten by dozens of students in front of the Indonesian Muslim University. The students had been angered by the burning of an effigy of Osama bin Laden days earlier in the town of Tondano, in North Sulawesi. The assault was stopped only after the university's rector personally dispersed the students. Police promised to take action against the assailants. There was no update on whether the assailants were punished by the end of the period covered by this report.
Members of the mainstream Hindu community, represented by the PHDI, reported no incidents in which followers were discriminated against or harassed. However, some Hindus in Bali expressed discomfort over the screening of a television program called "Angling Dharma," which they found insulting and patronizing. In January 2002, the PHDI petitioned the network involved to stop broadcasting the show.
Members of the Baha'i Faith did not report major problems since the lifting of the ban on their religious practice (see Section II); however, in early May 2001, a crowd of Muslims reportedly ousted two Baha'i families living in a predominantly Muslim village in the Donggala District of Central Sulawesi. The local branch of the MUI issued a fatwa banning the spread of the Baha'i Faith in the district. Once the MUI issues a fatwa, it is never withdrawn, but since it is an unofficial ban and not a government ban, it carries little weight.
Societal attitudes of some persons, particularly those in rural areas, have been shaped by beliefs in traditional magic, especially what is considered its darker form and is practiced by shamans called "dukun santet." Dukun santet is based in part on the pre-Islamic belief of systems of Aliran Kepercayaan and Kebatinan. Occasionally some dukun santet have been targeted for vigilante justice by those who blame them for random calamities. In May 2002, a dukun santet was killed in the district of Banyumas, Central Java. During the period covered by this report, in Kalimantan and Java a number of dukun santet were tortured and killed in separate incidents. During the period covered by this report, 94 persons were sentenced to prison for up to 4 years in connection with those crimes. It was unclear what progress, if any, the Government made in the case of 20 persons arrested in Cianjur, West Java, in connection with the killing of a santet in November 2000.
During the period covered by this report, interfaith organizations grew, and their activities enjoyed some media coverage. Among them were the Society for Interreligious Dialog (MADIA), the Indonesia Anti-Discrimination Movement (GANDI), the Interfidei, the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), and the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (also called ICRP), the Indonesian Peace Forum (FID), and the Institute of Gender and Religious Studies. The GANDI worked to repeal regulations it considered discriminatory, particularly toward ethnic Chinese citizens, and particularly targeted Law U.U. No. 1 (1974), which effectively prohibits the marriage of persons from different religions. The MADIA held seminars, discussions, and a cyberforum, frequently focusing on problems related to respect for basic human rights. The group also worked to bring attention to challenges that Sikhs in Medan confront in trying to get their marriages registered.
Section IV: U.S. Government Policy
The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the Consulate General in Surabaya, and visiting State Department officials regularly engaged government officials (particularly in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the State Secretariat) on religious freedom issues and also encouraged officials from other embassies to discuss the subject with the Government. U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the Consulate General officials focused many of these discussions on religious freedom in the Moluccas and Sulawesi.
The U.S. Government also provided funding to the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, which held a series of seminars on conflict resolution in cities around the country with high potential for conflict. The seminars were designed to initiate free discussion on conflict resolution so that the public could obtain balanced information on issues of inter-group relations. The discussions, held in October and November 2001, included prominent figures from the country's different religious communities. The Embassy also arranged digital video conferences on "Religious Freedom and Tolerance in a Democracy" and "Women and Islam," bringing together several hundred representatives of the various religious communities for discussion of these issues.
U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials regularly met with religious leaders to discuss the importance of religious freedom and tolerance and to encourage interreligious efforts to mitigate the sectarian conflict in the Moluccas and to combat religious intolerance.
U.S. Embassy and USAID officials worked with domestic and international NGO's to develop methods to mitigate religious conflict and to combat religious intolerance. The U.S. Embassy and the USAID worked with interfaith NGOs, such as the MADIA, both ICRPs and the Interfidei. They also met with international human rights groups and with the National Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM) and its branch in Ambon in Maluku Province. The U.S. Embassy promoted religious tolerance through public affairs, exchanges, training programs and engagement with government officials and religious and NGO leaders. The U.S. State Department and USAID funding was used to promote religious freedom, tolerance, and conflict resolution. The U.S. Embassy served as a liaison between the U.S. Government, Congress and Government officials on religious freedom issues and advocated U.S. government positions on areas of concern.
The U.S. Embassy and the U.S.-Indonesian Fulbright Foundation (AMINEF) provided expertise and equipment (including a virtual library on comparative religion) to help establish the country's first graduate-level program on comparative religion at Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta. The first of its kind in the country, this program is intended to foster competence in religious studies among educators. The long-term objective is to increase inter-religious understanding on college and university campuses. The Embassy renewed a program to send scholars from Islamic institutions to the U.S. for advanced degrees or research. The Embassy has also sent several religious leaders to the U.S. on International Visitor programs.
The USAID also continued its 3-year program aimed at strengthening civil society. Support was extended by the USAID to dozens of religiously affiliated NGOs in an effort to assist the democracy movement within the Muslim community. The USAID funded a conference that brought together leading Muslim intellectuals, who represent groups working to promote the understanding of secular democracy and its compatibility with Islam.