- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A man who was wounded when Islamic hard-liners launched a deadly attack on his minority sect questioned Indonesia’s commitment to religious freedom after he was sentenced to six months in jail - more than some of the attackers caught on video.

Deden Sudjana, a security chief for the minority Muslim Ahmadiyah, said he was trying to defend 20 sect members holed up in a house in the village of Cikeusik when they were surrounded by a frenzied mob of 1,500.

The assailants, carrying wooden clubs, machetes and rocks, killed three people and chanted “God is Great!” as they pummeled their lifeless bodies, police helplessly looking on. Footage of the gruesome attack was posted on YouTube.

Sumartono, presiding judge of the Serang District Court, sentenced Mr. Sudjana to six months in jail for resisting police orders to leave the scene and then hitting one of the mob’s leaders.

The attackers got three to six months.

“I had hoped the state and the judicial system could protect minorities, but I see now that I was wrong,” Mr. Sudjana - whose hand was nearly severed by a machete during the Feb. 6. attack - said after the verdict was read aloud.

“I’m the victim,” he told reporters. “Why am I getting a higher sentence than some of the perpetrators?”

Human rights groups blasted the ruling, saying it showed how the police, the judicial system and the government are helping fuel religious intolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The United States, which values Indonesia as a key democratic ally in Asia, also said it was disappointed.

Indonesia, a secular nation of 240 million, has a long history of religious tolerance.

But a small, extremist fringe has grown more vocal and violent in recent years. They have been emboldened by the inaction of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, and does not want to offend conservative Muslims by taking sides.

Perpetrators of such violence often go unpunished.

Human rights groups say police, under pressure by hard-liners, did not carry out a proper investigation into the Feb. 6 attacks and that prosecutors, claiming the Ahmadis were instigators, didn’t call key eyewitnesses.

Andreas Harsono of the New York-based Human Rights Watch called it the Talibanization of Indonesia.

“We have the impression that the Indonesian justice system has surrendered to [those] who have decided to take the law into their own hands,” he said.

The decision to punish one of the victims will only encourage more such violence, Mr. Harsono added.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide