The Jakarta Post
For the umpteenth time we have heard President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speak about his commitment to human rights protection and religious tolerance. But several cases recently give us countless reasons to doubt his rhetoric, simply because it is hardly ever translated into action.
In a repeat of his convincing words about the issues on Wednesday, Yudhoyono told foreign envoys, diplomats and representatives of international organizations operating in the country about his administration’s seriousness in handling human rights violations and religious violence.
It remains unknown whether they take Yudhoyono’s speech at face value, but continuing reports from international human rights groups and local media about the Indonesian government’s inability to address recurring acts of violence and intimidation of minority groups and violations of religious freedom are just too obvious to ignore.
Yudhoyono’s critics have pinpointed the absence of firm measures from the state, as a major source of impunity which protects those who take the law into their hands in the name of religion usually against minority groups. The state’s inaction continues despite support from mainstream Islamic groups like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah to do otherwise.
The government’s decision to play it safe rather than uphold its responsibility to take bold action in upholding the state ideology and the Constitution has not only justified acts of violence against minority groups, but has also nurtured a culture of intolerance.