Baduy Seek Recognition of Religion
Representatives of the Inner Baduy tribe in Lebak district in Banten plan to seek help from the Constitutional Court in getting their traditional religion officially recognized.
“We request that the justices of the Constitutional Court rule that Sunda Wiwitan, as the religion of the Baduy people, be listed on our ID cards,” Dainah, a Baduy elder and head of Kanekes village, told Antara news agency.
Sunda Wiwitan is the animist religion of around 11,000 Inner and Outer Baduy tribes, and is one of 250 traditional faiths practiced in Indonesia.
Most Baduy steadfastly rejected modern conveniences in accordance with the ways of their ancestors. The extremely conservative Inner Baduy live in a small, sacred area that foreigners are not permitted to enter, while the Outer Baduy’s rules are slightly more relaxed.
According to Dainah, since 2010 the Baduy people were compelled to choose between one of the six state-recognized religions when applying for a new ID card, known as a KTP.
Besides basic information such as name and address, a KTP also lists a person’s religion and marital status. Under the 2006 Public Administration Law, those who did not adhere to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism or Confucianism can leave the field blank.
However, different interpretations of the law at the local level have made it difficult for people from traditional faith groups to register for KTPs and the civil services obtainable through them, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses.
“We have to choose between the six religions. We’re confused that we can’t put ‘Sunda Wiwitan’ on our IDs,” Dainah said. “We went to the Home Affairs Ministry in Jakarta to ask about this but they recommended we go to the Constitutional Court.”
He added that between 1972 and 2009, the Baduy people were able to get “Sunda Wiwitan” listed as their religion. “But now we can’t. We hope the court can decide fairly and we can put our religions on our ID cards,” he said.
Sarpin, the Kanekes village secretary, said that only 150 Baduy had KTPs.
“Most of them are reluctant to apply for one because they can’t put in their religion,” he said.
Febi Yonesta from the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) said the Baduy had a strong legal basis to seek a judicial review of the 2006 law.
“The Constitution protects freedom of faith, and this should be reflected by acknowledging whatever faith a citizen professes,” he said. He added that the purpose of civil registration should be to record, not to restrict.
He also said that taking the case to the Constitutional Court was the best option for the Baduy because it was the law that was denying them official recognition of their religion.