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(Washington, D.C.) - The Indonesian authorities must act to halt attacks on the country's Ahmadi minority, Amnesty International said today, after a radical Islamist group led an attack on the Ahmadiyya in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
Hundreds of members of the group the Islamic Defender's Front (FPI) attacked some ten Ahmadiyya in their place of worship on Sunday.
Armed with machetes and bamboo sticks, the FPI members stormed the building at around 1 a.m. and attacked worshippers, inflicting serious head injuries on at least one Ahmadiyya member.
Three local human rights defenders, two from the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (LBH) in Makassar and one from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), were beaten by the mob while trying to stop the attacks. According to them, police officers who were present did nothing to stop the violence or protect the victims.
"The Indonesian authorities must immediately investigate and punish these attacks on the Ahmadiyya and human rights defenders in South Sulawesi," said Donna Guest, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director. "They must also investigate allegations that police stood by and did nothing to stop these attacks."
The previous evening dozens of FPI members had ransacked the building, breaking its windows and damaging a vehicle.
"We fear that some groups now think that they can attack religious minorities and human rights defenders without any fear of serious consequences," said Guest.
The fresh attacks have taken place amid a sentencing controversy over a fatal mob attack in February in Banten province on the home of an Ahmadi leader by over a thousand people wielding rocks, machetes, swords and spears.
An Indonesian court today sentenced Deden Sudjana of the Ahmadi community to six months' imprisonment for incitement and "maltreatment" during the February mob attack on the Ahmadiyya property. Three Ahmadis were beaten to death in the attack.
On July 28, 12 of the attackers received sentences of three to six months, and none were tried for murder.
"The Ahmadiyya are not receiving adequate protection from the security forces or the courts," said Guest.
In January 2011, hundreds of FPI members attacked an Ahmadiyya community center in South Sulawesi, vandalizing the building while the police looked on. Amnesty International is not aware of any investigation into the attacks.
There have also been reports of raids on entertainment outlets and food stalls by FPI members in Makassar since the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
South Sulawesi's provincial government is reportedly preparing a regulation issued by the Governor that would unlawfully restrict Ahmadiyya activities in the province.
"There are concerns that the authorities are not treating violence against the Ahmadiyya seriously," said Guest. "The Indonesian police must do more to protect religious minorities from attacks and intimidation."
The Ahmadiyya are a religious group who consider themselves a part of Islam; however many Muslim groups say they do not adhere to the accepted belief system.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.