Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A seminar on agnostics and ancestral beliefs revealed that agnostics and followers of unofficial religions are often denied civil rights in Indonesia because the state only recognizes six religions.
Participants from 35 remote communities who inherited their faith from their ancestors attended the seminar.
“The [blank] strip on the religion column in their identification card [KTP] often caused them to lose their civil rights such as birth, marriage, death certificates and even denied health services,” Eva Kusuma Sundari, of House Commission III which oversees legal affairs, said on Friday. “They are also denied their rights to education and jobs because they don’t have a religion.”
“You can say that the discrimination against followers of ancestral beliefs is systematic from the day they were born until the day they die. The public often rejected their bodies to be buried in public cemeteries,” Eva said.
Eva said that Law No.23/2006 does not require agnostics and followers of unofficial religions to fill in the religion column in their KTP, but to simply put a strip on the column or leave it vacant.
“However, the Home Affairs Ministry’s breakthrough to allow agnostics [and followers of other religions] to provide a letter from their organizations didn’t help solve the discrimination problem,” she said.
She added that the government’s authority to determine whether or not a religion is official has been straightened out by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the government does not have the authority to determine the legality of a religion.
“Therefore, the decision which said that the state only recognizes six religions is automatically invalid. Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Home Affairs Ministry, including the directorate general of civil administration, should implement the law. This means the requirement to fill up the religion column is no longer in accordance with the Constitution,” said Eva.