Contributions from Vietnam as a non-permanent member of the UNSC
Authors: Harsh Mahaseth and Aadira Menon *
Indonesia, an archipelago of 30,000 islands with 300 ethnic groups, is a predominantly Muslim country with a long history of religious diversity. The first major world religions to arrive in Indonesia were Hinduism and Buddhism, followed by Islam and Christianity. The identity of the “others” is unknown; however, they may be followers of local religions. Indigenous religions, as mentioned later, are not considered a “religion”, but rather a “belief” or “culture”, and are governed by the Ministry of Education and Culture rather than the Ministry. of Religious Affairs. What further complicates matters is that indigenous religious groups can have various religious affiliations: they can be considered members of an indigenous religion while claiming to be Muslims, Christians or members of other religious organizations, and therefore to be registered as such. This commentary will deepen the issue of religious intolerance and the current state of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Indonesia.
The Aliran Kepercayaan, who make up less than 0.6% of the population in Indonesia, are a traditional religious practice followed by a few from regions such as Java and Papua. The top five religions followed in Indonesia are Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The problem of the state’s relations with religions and Aliran Kepercayaan in Indonesia is inextricably linked to the debate on Law No. 1 / PNPS / 1965. Anyone who presents a “deviant” interpretation of religious teachings or commits blasphemy against religion is subject to this infamous rule.
In the 1970s and 1980s, President Suharto supported a number of discriminatory policies such as the rejection of the establishment of places of worship for the Kepercayaan community, the rejection of such marriage records by the community and mainly the denial of identity of the members of the Aliraan Kepercaayan, effectively emphasizing that Aliran Kepercayaan was not a (new) religion and that the followers of Aliran Kepercayaan had to accept a religion recognized by the state. Finally, in 2010, a group of non-governmental organizations appealed to the Constitutional Court for judicial review of the law. The repeal of the ordinance was aimed at ending discrimination and persecution of believers in Aliran Kepercayaan and his minority identity by one of Indonesia’s six official faiths. The Constitutional Court issued its decision on October 18, 2017. The Constitutional Court ruled that the word “religion” in article 61, paragraph (1), and “beliefs” in article 64, paragraph (1) of the Population Administration Laws violate the 1945 Constitution because they do not include “beliefs” in their interpretation. The Constitutional Court asserted that the exclusion of Aliran Kepercayaan from the “religion” section of the resident identity card deprived Indonesian citizens of due recognition, assurance, protection and legal certainty, as well as equal treatment before the law. Even though this judgment was celebrated, did it really lift the discriminatory barrier that has haunted the Kepercayaan community for decades now?
The government is respecting and following the verdict, according to Arief M. Edie, a spokesperson for the ministry, but only by revising the national ID card to include the Aliraan Kepercayaan as a religious status option in the religious status section. The seventh official religion of the state will not be recognized.
– (The New York Times)
“It’s only recognized as a culture, not a religion,” Arief explained. According to supporters of Aliran Kepercayaan, local governments in remote areas of Indonesia will continue to discriminate in the provision of public services. A number of Muslim organizations were taken aback by the court’s judgment and denounced it, believing it to go against the “national consensus”. Din Syamsudin, the former head of Muhammadiyah and a member of the advisory board of the Indonesian Ulema Council, made it clear that Kepercayaan or indigenous religions are not the same as (true) religion. Nevertheless, Law No. 1 / PNPS / 1965, which marks the beginning of the policy of the law of intolerance towards believers of Aliran Kepercayaan, is still in force today. The religion-Aliran Kepercayaan dichotomy is still used as a mental model when it comes to dealing with the identity of Aliran Kepercayaan members.
In addition, the Office of the Prosecutor continues to monitor the Aliran Kepercayaan organization today. The social framework has little impact on these two outstanding concerns. The lack of agreement on interactions between state and religion has an impact on these issues and warrants further investigation.
* Aadira Menon is a law student at Jindal Global Law School and research assistant at Nehginpao Kipgen Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, India.