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Freedom of expression and opinion in Indonesia under attack

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Leon Reiza reports on the growing threat of religious violence in Indonesia

Freedom of expression and opinion are being soiled and trodden underfoot in Indonesia today. On Sunday there have been attacks on the Ahmadiyah religious group (a current in Islam) in Cikeusik, Banten by right-wing Islamic fundamentalist groups in which three people were killed and many other injured. In another related incident another three Ahmadis were killed. The fundamentalist group set fire to houses, cars, and killing some followers of the Ahmadiyah, the events were recorded in the media and apparently the police are doing nothing to stop them.

Attacks on the Ahmadiyah had have happened several times over the past few years because for the fundamentalists is not the Ahmadiyya sect must be destroyed.

On Tuesday fundamentalists fomented another riot, this time they burned three churches and Christian schools in Waterford central Java. This incident occurred only because a local court sentenced a Christian to a 5 years jail sentence for circulating pamphlets critical of Islam. In this incident also it appears the police did not act decisively against the perpetrators of the church burning.

While the government and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has just issued a statement strongly condemning these actions there is the impression the government lets such incident happen to divert attention from the political problems it faces. It should not be forgotten that the massacre of the communists in 1965 was carried out not only by the Army but also by some of the fundamentalist groups of that time.

Fundamentalist groups are not primarily religious - though their Salafist Islam comes from the Middle east but are rightwing political Islamism - aiming at a totalitarian fascistic regime which would crush the rights of workers, youth women etc.

For this reason they attack not only religious groups but also never pass up the opportunity to attack leftist groups in Indonesia. There have been attacks by the same groups on the left. . From those events then it is time the labour movement in Indonesia forms a united front to resist the attacks of the fundamentalists in people's lives, especially the working class, the poor, women, youth and others.
It's obvious these fundamentalist groups are fostered by capitalism to create fear amongst the working class and society in order to prevent them moving against the regime. A Report of the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia declares that the recent riots were part of a grand design to make the national unrest that still need to be investigated goal.

All elements of the movement in Indonesia, especially pro-democracy forces and the left must unite and form a united front against the attacks of fundamentalist groups. The strength of the working class, women, youth, students, the poor are necessary to call for unity against fundamentalism and in defence of freedom expression and opinion both political and religious.