Civil Organization Rejects Plan to Demolish Ahmadiyah Mosque in Sintang

The conflict involving the Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia (JAI) in Sintang, West Kalimantan, is now entering a new phase. After previously a group of residents vandalized the mosque belonging to the congregation in early September, now the Sintang Regency government has not budged on its decision to issue a circular on the demolition of the mosque because it is considered not to have a permit.

Seeing this condition, the network of civic organizations is now encouraging the central government to take a more serious look at the discrimination currently taking place against the Ahmadiyah group in the Sintang area.

Head of the Legal Team for the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation, Fitria Sumarni at a press conference by the Advocacy Network for Freedom of Religion and Belief, on October 5, 2021. (Photo: Screenshot)

Head of the Legal Team for the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation, Fitria Sumarni at a press conference by the Advocacy Network for Freedom of Religion and Belief, on October 5, 2021. (Photo: Screenshot)

The Head of the Legal Team for the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation, Fitria Sumarni, expressed concern regarding the circular order for demolition issued on 8 September.

The letter ordered the management of the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation (JAI) in Balai Harapan village, Temunak sub-district, to dismantle the Miftahul Huda mosque building within 30 days of the letter being issued. The deadline is due on Friday (8/10) this week.

“Essentially, the Acting Regent said that the Miftahul Huda mosque was not licensed. So then the regent feels that with his authority he can impose sanctions based on the Sintang District Regulation number 8 of 2010 which sanctions are demolition,” Fitria said in an online press conference by the Advocacy Network for Freedom of Religion and Belief, on Tuesday (5/10) afternoon.

According to Fitria, the mosque has been used for worship by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Balai Harapan village from 2007 to 2020 without any warnings from the village to district level governments demanding permits. Because the condition was not proper after being used for 13 years, then in 2020 the mosque was rebuilt by the local congregation.

“For 13 years there was no (warning) and even no rejection from the public. The mosque can be used safely, there is no disturbance and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community there lives in mutual respect, harmony and harmony,” Fitria said.

According to him, the JAI management at Balai Harapan had submitted a letter of objection to the acting regent at that time, which the letter was also copied to Komnas HAM, Komnas Perempuan, the Ministry of Religion, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Indonesian Ombudsman.

Disrupting the Legal Process

Muhammad Subhi Azhari, Executive Director of the Inclusive Foundation, believes that the government in West Kalimantan should prioritize the dialogue process rather than forcing the demolition of the Ahmadiyah house of worship in Sintang. According to him, the central government also needs to act to correct the Sintang district government’s policy.

“I am also sad that the central government seems to have turned a blind eye to the issuance of the Decree of the Acting Regent on September 8th. We have not heard at all what the attitude of the central government is, whether it is reprimanded, reminded, corrected, that is not there at all,” said Subhi Azhari.

Muhammad Isnur, Head of the Advocacy Division of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) assessed that the plan to demolish the Ahmadiyah mosque could also disrupt the legal process that is currently underway against the perpetrators of the violence on September 3, 2021.

A police officer inspects the damage to the house of an Ahmadiyah member after being attacked in Pandeglang, Banten, Monday, February 7, 2011. (Photo: AP)

A police officer inspects the damage to the house of an Ahmadiyah member after being attacked in Pandeglang, Banten, Monday, February 7, 2011. (Photo: AP)

“We hereby urge the West Kalimantan Police Chief first, earlier we also asked Kompolnas (National Police Commission) to stop the demolition plan because it has the potential to damage the TKP (Case Crime Scene), damage ongoing evidence,” said Muhammad Isnur.

According to Muhammad Isnur, the Advocacy Network for Freedom of Religion and Belief encourages all parties to be involved in monitoring every stage of the victim recovery effort and law enforcement process in Sintang.

Trauma in Women and Children

Veryanto Sitohang, Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan, said that cases of violence and discrimination based on religion such as that experienced by JAI in Sintang district made women and children vulnerable to social and psychological violence.

“There are so many women and children who have experienced trauma and so on,” said Veryanto Sitohang.

He added that Komnas Perempuan had responded to complaints from the Sintang Ahmadiyah Congregation by conducting consolidation efforts with Komnas HAM, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission, the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) and the Indonesian Ombudsman. These efforts agreed to issue a joint recommendation addressed to the local government of Sintang Regency.

He then emphasized that the government needs to pay attention to cases of violence and discrimination based on religion to ensure that such cases do not recur, as well as to guarantee protection for victims, especially women and children. (yl/rs)

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