Violations against freedom of religion dominated by state actors: Setara Institute

CNN Indonesia – April 6, 2021
Demonstration against church construction in Semarang, Central Java – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy recorded 180 incidents and 412 acts which violated freedom of religion and belief (KBB) in Indonesia in 2020. The majority were committed by state actors.

These figures were contained in the Setara Institute's 14th research report for 2020 titled Intolerance during the pandemic.

"In 2020 there were 180 incidents of KBB violations, with 422 acts", Setara Institute Research Director Halili Hasan in a release received on Tuesday April 6.

Hasan explained that the number of incidents involving violations of freedom of religion and belief declined slightly compared with 2019 when there were 200 incidents. Nevertheless, in terms of individual acts the number of cases rose sharply compared with 2019 when 327 violations were recorded.

Hasan also explained that West Java province was the region with the largest number of violations in 2020 with 39 cases.

This was followed by East Java (23 cases), Aceh (18 cases), Jakarta province (13 cases), Central Java (12 cases), North Sumatra (9 cases), South Sulawesi (8 cases), Yogyakarta province (7 cases), Banten (6 cases) and West Sumatra (5 cases).

"The highest figure and most drastic incidents occurred in February 2020. Referring to the details of the incidents recorded, the trend of prohibiting the celebration of Valentine's Day in several parts of the country was the trigger for an increase in intolerance", he said.

State actors dominant

In addition to this, Hasan explain that state actors still dominated violations of freedom of religion and belief in Indonesia in 2020. He noted that 238 out of 412 individual acts were committed by state actors. Meanwhile some 184 of these were committed by non-state actors.

"This shows that the tendency for an increase in violations by state actions last year has continued", said Hasan.

Hasan said that the most common violation by state actors was discrimination with 71 cases. Meanwhile the largest number of incidents by non-state actors was intolerance with 42 cases.

The configuration of state and non-state actors as the perpetrators of violations against freedom of religion and belief has not changed significantly. In the category of state actors, regional governments and the police committed the largest number of violations with 42 cases each.

For non-state actors meanwhile, the highest number were committed by community groups with 67 cases and religious based ormas – social or mass organisations – with 42 cases.

"Looking at the portrait of cases by state and non-state actors, it appears that the [Covid-19] pandemic has become fertile ground for discrimination and intolerance", said Hasan. (rzr/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "SETARA: Negara Dominasi Pelanggaran Kebebasan Beragama 2020".]