Shariah-Backed Violence Rising in Aceh: Kontras
Banda Aceh. The number of incidents of violence as a result of Shariah law in Aceh increased in 2012 from a year earlier, a rights group noted on Thursday.
Destika Gilang Lestari, the provincial coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said at a press conference that the total number of cases of Shariah-linked violence last year was 50, up from 47 in 2011.
“The culture of allowing violence in relation to the enforcement of Shariah law remains high in Aceh, based on our observations throughout the past year,” she said. “There were 16 cases in which people accused of unlawful sexual relations were assaulted, and five cases in which they were doused with sewage.”
Gilang added that in those cases, the perpetrators were all mobs of local residents who had reportedly caught the couples engaging in sex acts. Under Shariah, premarital and extramarital sex are unlawful.
Kontras also noted that Aceh’s notorious Wilayatul Hisbah, the Shariah police, were also responsible for committing violence through their routine raids on suspected Shariah offenders.
“We’re categorizing their raids as Shariah-based violence because they consistently act in an discriminatory manner,” Gilang said.
“For instance, raids to enforce the dress code for women are only targeted at those on motorcycles, while those in cars are never checked.”
Kontras recorded 23 cases of violence related to crackdowns on illegal sex acts, 11 cases of violence during WH raids and six cases of caning of Shariah offenders.
The group warned that the nature of Shariah law gave the public the impression that it was justified in taking the law into its own hands, thereby accounting for the high number of violent incidents involving mobs.
Gilang cited a case in Bireuen district in November in which a mob attacked the home of an Islamic cleric that it accused of deviant teachings. The cleric and one of his followers were killed, as was one of the attackers.
In the aftermath of the violence, police named the followers as suspects, and took no action against the attackers.
“We’re certain that in 2013 the number of cases of violence as a result of Shariah law will increase, especially if law enforcement officers stand idly by and do nothing to stop mob violence,” Gilang said.
She added that the police’s failure to take action against such mobs highlighted a “loss of control” on the part of the police.
“Kontras can only regretfully conclude from all this that the reform of the police force in Aceh has failed,” she said.