Activists Say Police Allowed Ahmadiyah Attacks

Jakarta, Indonesia - A nongovernmental organization has accused the National Police of being complicit in a deadly attack on members of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect, saying the police’s failure to provide the Ahmadis with protection signaled they were allowing the attack to occur.

Nurkholis Hidayat, the chairman of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), said on Sunday that police reluctance to confront anti-Ahmadiyah protesters played a role in permitting the attack on Feb. 6, which left three Ahmadiyah members dead in Cikeusik in Pandeglang, Banten.

He pointed out that a regulation issued by former National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri last October allowed officers to used live bullets to handle protesters if they became uncooperative or started attacking officers.

The regulation, Protap 01, was conspicuously “not put into use” during the recent attack, he said.

“The police neglected to provide any form of security. They stood back and allowed the attack to occur,” Nurkholis said at the Jakarta office of the human rights watchdog Imparsial.

He was accompanied by members of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham).

“Police knew of the threat. They knew that an attack could occur, but they did not take any action to stop the Pandeglang incident,” Nurkholis said.

“The police admitted to knowing that the attack would occur and that people were being mobilized,” he said. “The police did not fulfill their basic duty — to offer maximum protection to Indonesian citizens.”

Nurkholis said that according to LBH investigations into the Pandeglang violence, police officers said that the Ahmadis had “challenged” protesters to launch the attack by failing to leave the house of an Ahmadiyah leader they were protecting.

“When the police knowingly do nothing during a blatant attack such as this, they are willingly allowing the attack and the murders to occur,” he added.

Banten Police Chief Brig. Gen. Agus Kusnadi has previously rejected accusations that the attack was the result of police negligence.

“We didn’t let it happen, we had anticipated it,” he said, pointing out that they tried to evacuate the Ahmadis. “The clash happened because there was provocation from the people who were attacked and the big number of attackers.”

Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said on Sunday that many people were also questioning why, given the regulations in place, the police did not take firm action against the rioters in Temanggung, Central Java.

“They have Protap 01 in place. It was issued for such incidents,” he said. “But it was not put into use in either the Temanggung or Pandeglang incidents.”

He was referring to an attack on churches in Temanggung, Central Java, just two days after the violence in Banten.

In a separate development, Mahendradatta, a lawyer who represents prominent Islamic hard-liners such as Abu Bakar Bashir, said on Sunday that he had suspicions that one of the men shown to be leading the attack in Pandeglang had shown a form of respect to Arief, said to be an Ahmadi who filmed the violence.

Arief has been placed into protective custody by Komnas Ham and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK).

“There is a possibility that Arief belongs to the same group as the attacker,” he said.

One of the attackers, identified as Ujang bin Sahari, has said he became angry after Ahmadiyah followers attacked his brother, Suparta, a day earlier.

Police have so far named five suspects in the case, including Ujang. All of them have been identified as local clerics in Cikeusik.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently spoke out against what many people perceive to be a growing wave of religious intolerance across the country, saying the law should be used to disband groups advocating violence.