Aceh Muslims Speak Out in Support Of Punks’ Treatment
Arientha Primanita & Antara
Muslims students and clerics in staunchly Islamic Aceh on Wednesday came to the defense of the local authorities, saying that punks were trying to undermine Islamic law in the province, as officials claim.
Authorities in Aceh, especially the administration of the Banda Aceh municipality, have come under a barrage of criticism at home and abroad, with accusations of human rights violations being made following their move to arrest 65 punks in Aceh and send them for several days of “re-education” at a police camp.
“The existence of punks in Aceh is weakening the implementation of Islamic Shariah [law] in Aceh that is now being promoted, by damaging the moral of the youths in Aceh,” said Tengku Mukhtar Syafari, the head of the Rabithath Muta’allin Pidie association of clerics.
The Aceh chapter of Indonesian Muslim Student Action Unity (Kammi) aired its full support for the authorities’ actions, saying that the life they were living was not in line with the culture and customs of Aceh.
“In a number of Western countries, Muslims are not allowed to wear the veil. Is that not a human rights violation?” said Muhammad Muaz Munawar, who heads the chapter.
He said that everyone should respect the policies of other countries.
“Each country must have its own wisdom, so everyone else should respect it.”
Mukhtar said the accusations of human rights violations by rights activists were “unbalanced” and that activists were doing nothing.
“So far, these human rights defenders have come up with unbalanced statements on the way punks are provided with guidance although they themselves do not do anything,” Mukhtar said.
He said that instead of criticizing Aceh for dealing with its punks, human rights activists and groups should focus their attention on more serious violations, such as the killing of Palestinians by Israelis.
Meanwhile, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf al-Juffrie said he had reminded all social affairs workers and the police to act in a persuasive way when dealing with minors.
He also said that appearances could be deceiving.
“Their hair may look that way because it is the style, but their heart may not necessarily be bad. But if they have violated the law, for example by consuming drugs, that is different,” he added.
The deputy mayor of Banda Aceh, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, who has been criticized for her staunch support for the move, said critics could come and see for themselves how the detainees had been treated. “Don’t just listen to negative issues regarding the guidance we are providing them. Please come and see for yourself that we really only want them to become better,” Illiza said.
Illiza said the 59 boys and six girls who had been given the “guidance” at a police camp outside of Banda Aceh, would soon be sent back to live with their families in the region.
No further details were given, but officials said they planned to return the young people to their parents on Friday.
Their “guidance” sessions included shaving their heads, cutting the hair of the girls short and intensive military-like discipline drills.