(New York, February 8, 2011) -- The killing of three members of the Ahmadiyah religious minority underscores the need for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately revoke a 2008 decree that bans the community's religious activities, Human Rights Watch said today.
On February 6, 2011, a mob of at least several hundred people attacked about 25 Ahmadiyah members in Cikeusik village, Banten province in western Java, while about 30 police officers who were present made little effort to stop the attack. Senior government officials have condemned the attack and ordered a police investigation, but the government needs to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and open an independent investigation into why the police did not prevent the attack, Human Rights Watch said.
"How many Ahmadiyah have to die at the hands of mobs before the police step in," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The Indonesian government should end this wave of hate crimes and immediately revoke the 2008 anti-Ahmadiyah decree, which encourages these vicious attacks."
An amateur video obtained by Human Rights Watch shows hundreds of villagers encircling the house of an Ahmadiyah leader, Ismail Suparman, nicknamed Parman, at around 10 a.m. on February 6. A man in a black leather jacket and a skullcap leads the attackers, telling plainclothes police officers outside the house to move away.
The video shows two police trucks parked outside the house. One officer tries to persuade the mob's leader not to attack, but he waves the police away. A man in military uniform also asks the villagers not to attack. In a matter of seconds, hundreds of the attackers wearing blue ribbons pinned to their chests -- to distinguish themselves -- enter the house, where at least 21 Ahmadiyah men are taking refugee. The group's leader takes out a machete. The Ahmadis try to defend themselves with bamboo sticks and stones, but are in no position to stop the mob.
The assailants quickly take over the house and burn it, along with a van and a motorcycle. They order the Ahmadiyah men to strip naked, and the video footage shows gruesome beatings of the men with wooden sticks, hoes, and machetes. Three died and six were injured. Some of the Ahmadiyah in the house remain unaccounted for.