INDONESIA: Case of bullying and the forced dispersal of rosary prayer activities in Tangerang: Stop intolerant behaviour and investigate the perpetrators thoroughly

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to the President of Republic of Indonesia 

Mr. Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat

Tel: +62 21 3458 595
Fax: +62 21 3484 4759

Dear Mr. President: 

INDONESIA: Case of bullying and the forced dispersal of rosary prayer activities in Tangerang: Stop intolerant behaviour and investigate the perpetrators thoroughly

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) strongly condemns the harassment and forced dispersal of Catholic students of the Pamulang University when they organised a rosary prayer. On the evening of Sunday, 5 May 2024, there was harassment and the forced dispersal of the rosary prayer activity carried out by a group of Catholic students in the Pamulang University in Jalan Ampera Poncol, Cisauk, South Tangerang – Banten Province. 

There are allegations of provocation and attacks against residents, initiated by the Head of the Neighbourhood Unit (RT) to disperse these worship activities. It is known that the forced dispersal resulted in injuries due to acts of violence in the form of stabbings and beatings. Refer to the case. The AHRC supports the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS), strongly condemning the acts of bullying and the dispersal of worship that occurred, and because it is a serious violation of the right to the freedom of religion and belief, the perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.

Based on the information that we received, there was bullying and disbandment and violence against the Catholic student group of the Pamulang University carrying out the rosary prayer service. At around 07.30 p.m., the Head of the RT whose initial is Mr. D (53-years-old) came to the house where the students were gathering and tried to stop the worship activity. We found a one minute 47 seconds video compiled by (an online national media), where there was an effort to bully and disband, and there were provocative speeches made by the Head of the RT, namely D (53). Shortly thereafter, residents in the area where the prayer service was taking place were provoked to stop and disperse the group of Catholic students who were praying. At least one woman was the victim of a stabbing. Not only that, a Muslim man who was trying to defend and protect Catholic students also became a victim of a stabbing.

Bullying and the forced dispersal of worship as occurred is in violation of Article 28E of the 1945 Constitution which states, “Every person is free to embrace religion and worship according to his religion.” And Article 29 Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution states, “The State guarantees the freedom of every citizen to embrace their own religion and to worship according to their religion and beliefs”. Apart from constitutional violations, the act of disbanding worship activities of this kind is a violation of international human rights standards such as Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as ratified through Law 12 /2005, as well as Article 22 of the Law 39/1999 concerning Human Rights (UU HAM).

The case also violates Article 170 of the Criminal Code concerning beatings which states, “Anyone who openly and with concerted force uses violence against people or property, is threatened with imprisonment for a maximum of five years and six months” 

Article 351 of the Criminal Code, especially Section (1), reads, “Maltreatment is punishable by a maximum imprisonment of two years and eight months or a maximum fine of Rupiah 4,500.” Apart from that, in Article 28 G of the 1945 Constitution, it is stated that everyone has the right to a sense of security that is not obtained by victims in the context of bullying and forced dispersal.

In the context of efforts to guarantee the implementation of the right to the freedom of religion and belief, the State, through the Central Government down to the lowest levels of the apparatus such as villages, has an obligation to prevent incidents of the disbandment of worship as they occur. This kind of incident needs to be dealt with firmly by the law enforcement officials to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents in the future. Because, if this happens repeatedly, it is feared that this will create fear among the community regarding the enjoyment of the rights to worship and religion.

Based upon the above mentioned chronology, we urge the Indonesian Government to do priority policies as follows: 

  1. The Government, through the Governor of the Banten Province and the Mayor of the Tangerang City, to protect the right to the freedom of religion and belief from various forms and threats of violations;
  2. The Republic of Indonesia Police, through the Jakarta Metropolitan Police Office (Polda Metro Jaya) and the Head of the South Tangerang Police (Polres Tangerang), to carry out transparent and accountable inquiries and investigations into the perpetrators of violations of the right to the freedom of religion;
  3. The Chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to order his staff to monitor the events that occurred and provide an evaluation for the Regional Government regarding the implementation of the guarantee of the right to the freedoms of belief and religion;
  4. The Chairman of the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) to immediately provide protection for the victims and witnesses, including ensuring the implementation of the recovery process.

Yours Sincerely,         

Prakash Mohara 

Executive Director

Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-003-2024
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Administration of justice, Democracy, Freedom of religion, Threats and intimidation,