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Light sentences for Ahmadiyah killings spark condemnation JAKARTA - A wave of condemnation greeted the verdicts imposed on Thursday against 12 people accused of killing three members of the minority Ahmadiyah group in Indonesia.

The Jakarta Globe reported that the district court in Serang in Banten province cleared the defendants of the primary charge of inciting hatred and mob violence, but found them guilty of "participation in a violent attack that resulted in casualties." The sentences handed down ranged from between three and six months in jail, even though the charge of which they were found guilty carries a jail term of up to seven years.

In all of the verdicts, which were read in separate hearings, the panel of judges agreed that it was the Ahmadiyah group that instigated the attack by ignoring police calls to leave the scene. "The defendants did not know the victims and they just followed the crowd that was made up of thousands of people," judge Cipta Sinuraya said.

The defendants were mainly local villagers and students from Muslim boarding schools who joined a 1,000 strong mob in the February 6 attack on the group of Ahmadis who gathered at the home of an Ahmadiyah leader in Cikeusik, West Java. Three Ahmadis died and five were seriously injured in the attack, which was widely condemned by both local and international human rights organizations.

Some of the defendants were released because they have already served their sentences in detention, which began in February.

On Thursday, Amnesty International released a statement saying that the lenient sentences show that religious minorities face ongoing discrimination in Indonesia. "The government must show its willingness to stem the rising tide of discrimination and abuse against the Ahmadis and other religious minorities," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch also expressed grave disappointment, saying it was a "sad day for Indonesia." Elaine Pearson, deputy director of HRW's Asia division, said: "The way this investigation and trial was conducted is just appalling. Despite clear video evidence of people being beaten to death, the longest sentence is six months."

Furthermore, the United States Embassy expressed its disappointment at the "disproportionately light sentences," and encouraged Indonesia "to defend its tradition of tolerance for all religions, a tradition praised by President [Barack] Obama in his November 2010 visit to Jakarta."

The European Union also reminded Indonesia about "the need to ensure that religious and other minorities are adequately protected by the justice and law enforcement systems, including through sufficiently dissuasive penalties for acts of violence directed against such minorities."

Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of intimidation and violence against the religious group by radical Islamist groups in various parts of Indonesia. The Ahmadiyah community is also discriminated against in law, including a 2008 joint ministerial decree forbidding the Ahmadiyah from promoting their activities and other local regulations restricting the group's activities.


Tags: Ahmadiyah, killing, sentence, light


Posted in Crime @ 28 July 2011 23:34 CET by Blog Bot · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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