UPDATE (Indonesia): Decree banning religious group must be revoked


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-036-2008
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Freedom of religion, Judicial system, Right to fair trial, Threats and intimidation,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes with deep concern on the issuance of a decree banning a religious minority, Ahmadiyah, from spreading their religious practices by the government on 9 June 2008. The AHRC is concerned that the decree would encourage other Muslim groups critical of them to carry out more attacks placing them in unnecessary risks.


On June 5, the AHRC reported that a gathering of group advocating religious freedom had been attacked by a group of Muslims. The incident, however, was yet another instance of religious minorities targeted for supposedly deviating from the mainstream Islamic beliefs. See: AHRC-UAC-127-2008.

Days after the said incident, the government of Indonesia issued a Joint Ministerial Decree Number 199/2008 which imposes restrictions banning the Ahmadiyah from spreading their religious practices and interpretations on the pretext that they deviate from the principal teachings of Islam. An imprisonment of five years was also imposed on anyone who violates the decree. The full text of the said Decree, however, is not yet immediately available.

However, prior to the issuance of the decree, one of the leaders of the Islamic Defender Front-Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (FPI-HTI), Munarman, has distributed his videotape to television station in Jakarta demanding that the government bans the Ahmadiyah. He also said he would turn himself in to the police once the government bans the group.

It is Munarman and his group who were responsible for attacking a peaceful gathering of a religious group advocating for religious freedom on June 1. He was also captured in a camera strangling someone during the incident. Munarman went into hiding after delivering a speech of hate and provocation. He however videotaped a statement which was broadcasted by a television station in Jakarta calling for the government to ban Ahmadiyah.

Not long after the publication of the video, the government, through the Minister of Religion, Minister of Domestic Affair, and the Attorney General have signed and issued the Decree on June 9.  The authorities, particularly the Attorney General, however claims that the decree did not aim at banning the Ahmadiyah group, but rather orders its followers to return to  “mainstream Islam” belief.

However, not only did the decree put Ahmadiyah in unnecessary risk, furthermore, it likewise causes anxieties amongst them. Now the group fears they would be targeted more by the groups critical of them. They were deeply disturbed that there would be more attacks against them by those Muslim groups and other groups on the pretext of the issuance of the Decree. The Decree also effectively legitimized whatever action that may be taken against the minority group.


The issuance of this decree undermines the Religious freedom, as one of the fundamental human rights, in Indonesia.

In doing so, the government violates its own commitment to ensure protection of freedom of religion under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which it is a State party since 2006 and the provision of its Constitution which respects everyone to hold his/her own religion and religious beliefs.

In light of the above, the AHRC urges the government to revoke the implementation of the Decree in compliance with its obligations to ensure guarantee and protection of religious freedom in the country. In regards, they must also ensure that the police are able to immediately provide adequate protection to prevent possible attacks on them, or prevent them from being harmed.

The rise of violence against the Ahmadiyah group, which continues unabated, began in 2005 following the issuance of a Fathwa, an Islamic decree issued by a mufti or a religious lawyer on a specific issue, which bans the group from practicing their religion. See UA-193-2005.

In July 2007, similar attacks also took place wherein an Ahmadiyah mosque in West Java was attacked by mobs from three other Islamic sects. See: UA-215-2007. In May this year, another mosque of Ahmadiyah in Sukabumi, West Java was burned down: See UAC-108-2008.

Please write letters to the concerned authorities below demanding for the Indonesian government to revoke the decree.

Please be informed that the AHRC has also written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ______,

INDONESIA: Decree banning religious group must be revoked

I am writing to raise my serious concern for the issuance of the Joint Ministerial Decree Number 199/2008 on June 9, which imposes restrictions on a religious group, Ahmadiyah, effectively banning the group from spreading their religious beliefs or from freely practicing their religion.

I have learned that the issuance of the decree took place days after a religious groups advocating for religious freedom were attacked on June 1. It is reported that one of those attackers, Munarman, a member of the Islamic Defender Front-Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (FPI-HTI), has demanded to have the group banned.

Munarman is reported to have issued the demand in public in a videotape broadcast in Jakarta in exchange for his surrender. Munarman himself was being located by the authorities for being responsible for hate speech and provocation. Nevertheless, days after his demands were broadcast, the said decree was issued.

I urge the concerned authorities to immediately revoke the implementation of this decree; and that it must refrain from making public statements undermining the religious minorities themselves. I am saddened by the government’s issuance of this policy, which aggravates and places the minorities in further risk, instead of ensuring the respect and protection in practice of their religious beliefs.

I am aware that the attack on Ahmadiyah, which began in 2005, has been continuing but the authorities remain unable to effectively address this situation. They remain unable to afford protection and to ensure that they are prevented from being attacked further.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
Republic of Indonesia
Presidential Palace
Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara
Jakarta Pusat 10010
Tel: + 62 21 3845627 ext 1003
Fax: + 62 21 231 41 38, 345 2685, 345 7782
E-mail: presiden@ri.go.id

2. Mr. M. Maftuh Basyuni
Minister of Religion
Religion Department of Republic Indonesia
Jalan Lapangan Banteng Barat
No. 3 – 4 Jakarta 10710
Tel: +62 21 3812306, 322697, 361654, 361642
E-mail : pikda@depag.go.id

3. Gen. Sutanto
Chief of National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
E-mail: polri@polri.go.id

4. Mr. Wisnu Subroto
Coordinating Board Coordinating Board
for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society
Kejaksaan Agung RI
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: + 62 21 7221337, 7397602
Fax: + 62 21 7250213
E-mail: postmaster@kejaksaan.or.id

5. Mr. Hendarman Supandji
Attorney General
Kejaksaan Agung RI
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: + 62 21 7221337, 7397602
Fax: + 62 21 7250213
E-mail: postmaster@kejaksaan.or.id

6. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
Tel: +62 21 3925230
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227
E-mail: info@komnasham.or.id

7. Mr. Mardiyanto
Minister of Home Affairs
Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara No. 7 
Jakarta Pusat 
Tel: +62 21 381 1120
Fax: +62 21 381 1120
Email: pusdatinkomtel@depdagri.go.id

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.