Protesters from some 147 organisations (ormas) held a protest action at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the Acehnese provincial capital of Banda Aceh on Friday February 2.
They were expressing their appreciation and support for the actions of North Aceh district police chief Assistant Superintendent Untung Sangaji who arrested 12 transgender women (waria) in North Aceh then shaved their heads and forced them to behave like men.
Following Friday prayers, the crowd gathered in front of the mosque carrying banners and other paraphernalia with statements and other forms of support for Untung. “Pak Untung is upholding Islamic [law]”, shouted the crowd.
In addition to expressing support for Untung’s actions, the groups also signed a statement rejecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people which was printed on a length of white cloth.
Daya Aceh representative Tgk Bulqaini said that the Achenese community along with Islamic scholars strongly support the policies enacted by Ahmad Untung Surianata, who is affectionately known as Untung Sangaji.
“We reject the existence of LGBT groups in Aceh and what was done by Pak Untung was an absolutely correct. He is controlling the waria and restoring them to normal men”, he said.
Shrugging off the issue of human rights violations, Bulqaini said that people outside of Aceh do not understand the conditions or regulations that are in force in the Gateway of Mecca as Aceh is known.
“Many people are claiming human rights [violations occured] but they forget that there is an obligation. If they [LGBT people] continue to have same-sex relations it will bring disease to this country. Because of this therefore these people who are ill must be treated and returned to the correct path”, he said in conclusion.
A representative from the group Islamic Law Lovers Alliance (APSI) Tgk Mursyuddin Ishak said that Untung’s efforts to retrain the 12 transgender women have been condemned by many parties such as pro-LGBT and human rights activists.
“Supporting the retraining of LGBT [people] that was carried out was an effort to act upon a report by a community that was anxious about the existence of waria, whose population continues to grow”, he said.
The action attracted the attention of passers-by and road users with quite a few even stopping to watch the rally. Scores of police and public order agency officers meanwhile maintained security at the protest which proceeded in an orderly and peaceful manner.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was 147 Ormas Demo di Depan Masjid Raya Banda Aceh Dukung AKBP Untung.]