INDONESIA: Police’s failure to protect the Shia minority in Sampang resulted in the death of a person, many others injured and houses were burnt 


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-164-2012
ISSUES: Freedom of religion, Police negligence,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the attack committed by a group claiming to be the followers of a fundamentalist Islamic sect against the Shia community in Sampang, East Java, on the 26th of August 2012. It is reported that the angry mob consisted of approximately 500 people. Early warnings about the imminent attack had been given to the police but their inadequate response had resulted in the death of a member of the community, seven others were severely injured, and 40 houses were burnt. A hundred and sixty five people were reported displaced, most of them are women and children.


According to KontraS (The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence), in around June and August 2012, the members of the community had received death threats from a group which claimed to be Sunni Muslims. On the 23rd of August, those who are allegedly from the same group conducted sweeping operations on the Shia community in the village. The Shia community later reported the incident to the police but as yet no action has been taken by the police.

On the 26th of August at around 8am, approximately 500 people carrying machetes, swords and petrol bombs gathered in Nangkernang village, Sampang. A member of the community later made a phone call to Omben District Police Station as well as Sampang Sub-District Police Station to report this. As a response, the police sent five police officers to the location.

At around 11am, the mob started attacking young members of the Shia community who were just returning to the village from their Ramadhan holiday. The mob threw stones, petrol bombs, and stabbed the young Shia Muslims with their swords and machetes. The attack resulted in the death of a fifty year old Shia man named Hamama, seven others were severely injured and many others were wounded. The mob also destroyed 40 houses belonging to the members of the Shia community. One of the houses set fire to was the house of Tajul Muluk, the leader of the Shia community in Sampang, who in July was sentenced to two years imprisonment for blasphemy.

The mob kept attacking the community even after the police and the Mobile Brigadier came to the location. KontraS reported that, at the moment, there are 53 children, 29 youths, and 83 adults looking for refuge. After the attack, 700 security officers arrived from the police, the military and the Mobile Brigadier of the East Java Regional Police to secure the location. As the time of writing, eight people have been arrested and investigated by the police with one of them being named as a suspect.


Attacks and intimidation are nothing new for the Shia community in Sampang. On 26th of February in 2006, approximately 5000 people came to Nangkernang village where the Shia community lives and intimidated 400 Shia Muslim who lived there. In October 2009, Tajul Muluk was ‘invited’ for a meeting with the mainstream Muslim group, the Nadlatul Ulama who requested him to ‘get back to the Nadlatul Ulama’s understanding’. Tajul Muluk was forced to stop any religious activities in Sampang and it was reported that the Head of Omben District Police Station was involved in the intimidation. Shia belief has been openly declared by the Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) as a heresy.

Later on the 4th of April 2011 Tajul Muluk conducted a celebration to commemorate Maulid Nabi in Sampang and approximately 5000 people from 6 people were mobilised allegedly by the Madura Ulema Forum (Badan Silaturahmi Ulama Madura, BASRAH) to intimidate the Shia community led by him. Fortunately, the mass mobilisation did not end up in violence as the police successfully prevented any attack to take place. Following the mass mobilisation, Tajul Muluk came to a closed meeting which was also attended by various Islamic leaders in Sampang. The majority of the meeting attendance later agreed on third points. First, any Shia activities in Sampang should be halted and all Shia in Sampang should adopted Sunni Muslim’s belief. Second, if the first point is not being obeyed then members of Shia in the village should leave Sampang without any compensation and, three, if none of these points will not to be fulfilled then the Shia in Sampang should die. Tajul Muluk was later put in Sampang Sub-District Police Station for his security and the Regent of Sampang issued a statement saying that all Shia in his territory are prepared to be relocated.

In May 2011, the MUI at Sampang collected signatures from the villagers in Sampang for petition asking the Shia to leave the village. Few months later in December 2011, an attack was directed against the Shia community’s Islamic school. The dorm where the young Sunni Muslims lived, class rooms, canteens and books were burnt in this attack.

In one of its articles, the Law No. 2 Year 2002 on the Indonesian National Police establishes that it is a main duty of the police to protect the life, properties, the society and environment from any kind of attacks or disruption. In so doing, the police have to comply with the principle of anti-discrimination, as enshrined under the Regulation of the Chief of the Indonesian National Police No. 8 Year 2009. According to one of its article, ‘in accordance with the principle of respect for human rights, every Indonesian National Police members in discharging his/her duties or in the course of their daily lives must protect and respect human rights, or at least… act justly and non-discriminatory’.

Please write to the authorities listed below asking them to bring the attackers to justice, in accordance with law. Please also urge them to take necessary legal measures against the police and other security officers who failed to provide protection against the Shia community members despite the reports and warnings given to them.

The AHRC is writing separately to the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues.

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Dear ___________,

INDONESIA: Police’s failure to protect Shia minority in Sampang resulted in the death of a person, many others injured and houses were burnt

Name of killed victim: Hamama
Status of other victims: Seven people are severely injured (identities are still unknown), many others injured, 165 people were displaced
Names of alleged perpetrators: Police officers at East Java Regional Police Station, Omben District Police and Sampang Sub-District Police Station
Date of incident: 26 August 2012
Place of incident: Sampang, Madura, East Java

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the attack against the Shia community in Sampang, East Java on the 26th of August 2012. I have received the information that the attack was committed by approximately 500 people carrying petrol bombs, machetes and swords who claimed to be the members of Sunni Muslim community. The Sampang Sub-District as well as the Omben District police had been warned by a member of the Shiah community regarding the imminent attack yet they have failed to respond adequately and properly to the warning. As a result, a man named Hamama was killed, seven others were severely injured and many others were wounded. The police have also failed to prevent the attackers from burning the houses of the members of the Shia community resulting in 40 houses being destroyed and at least 156 people, including women and children, have been displaced.

The latest update I received is that seven people are being questioned and a person has been named as suspect by the police. I call upon you to ensure that the attackers, who were reported to be in the region of 500 people, are brought to justice and the legal proceedings against them should be conducted impartially and effectively. In conducting legal proceeding against the perpetrators, the police have to ensure that there is sufficient evidence and that their rights are respected.

I would also like to emphasise that it is not only the attackers who are responsible for the violence that took place in this case but also the officers from Sampang Sub-District and Omben District Police who have failed to respond adequately to the warning reported by a member of the Shia community regarding the attack. I have been told that, in responding to such warning, the police only sent five officers to deal with the potential violence from a mob consisting of approximately 500 people. I have also been informed that it is only after the attack took place that the East Java Police Station deployed about 700 of its officers to ‘secure the location’.

I am aware that the Indonesian National Police has the obligation to protect the life, properties, the society as well as the environment from any kind of attacks or disruption, as stipulated under the Law No. 2 Year 2002 on the Indonesian National Police. In exercising such duty and obligation, the Regulation of the Chief of the Indonesian National Police No. 8 Year 2009 emphasises that the Indonesian National Police members must not act discriminatory. Given these provisions, I am urging you to take necessary legal measures against the police officers who have failed to provide protection for the Shia community members in this case.

I am disturbed by the failure of the government to protect the Shia minority from the ongoing persecution against them. The attack demonstrates the government’s inability to protect these people’s right to religious freedom and belief. Attacks and violence directed against the community is nothing new for the Shia community in Sampang and they have been threatened to be dispersed from the village should they do not agree to convert their belief to the mainstream Islamic belief. I would like to emphasise that freedom of religion as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Indonesia is a state party includes the right to have and adopt religion or belief. This right has an absolute character that any activities that any intervention on such right should be treated as a violation to freedom of religion. I would like to emphasise that the Indonesian Constitution also guarantees the right to freedom of religion and recognises its absolute character.

I am therefore calling you to take all the necessary steps under your authority to ensure that those responsible for the attacks against Shia community in this group, including the aforementioned police officers, are brought to justice. The family of the killed victims, the injured and the wounded as well as those who have lost their home due to the attack should be provided with compensation in accordance with international human rights standard.

I look forward for your adequate and effective response on this matter.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President of Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
Tel: +62 21 345 8595
Fax: +62 21 3483 4759

2. Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director of Human Rights
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7
Kuningan, Jakarta 12940
Tel: +62 21 525 3006, 525 3889
Fax: +62 21 525 3095

3. Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110
Tel: +62 21 384 8537, 726 0306
Fax: +62 21 7220 669

4. Inspector General Pol. Hadiatmoko
Head of the East Java Regional Police
Jl. Ahmad Yani, Surabaya
Tel: +6231 828 0748
Fax: +6231 829 0562, 828 0817

5. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4-B
Jakarta 10310
Tel: +62 21 392 5227
Fax: +62 21 392 5227

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-164-2012
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Freedom of religion, Police negligence,