US rights group deplores deadly attack on Indonesian Shias
Story Code : 221520
The Washington-based organization in a statement deplored the assault, and urged the Indonesian government to fulfill its responsibility for protecting the lives of people.
It also called for lifting the siege imposed by the local government against the Shias, punishing extremists and trying the criminals.
On August 26, a mob of hundreds armed with sickles and swords hacked a Shia man to death and torched more than 30 houses in the town of Sampang in the East Java province, forcing villagers to seek refuge at a nearby sports hall.
Since then they have slept on thin mattresses surrounded by flies, sharing few communal toilets and eating modest meals.
Last month, the Indonesian government cut their free food and water supplies, citing lack of funds.
To add insult to injury, religious and village leaders demanded they convert to Sunni Islam or be expelled from the district.
The August incident in the Sampang district was not the first of its kind in the area, according to Human Rights Watch.
In late last December, Shias in Nangkernang were attacked by Sunni extremists who set fire to hundreds of homes and a Shia school, forcing 500 people to flee their village, the international organization said.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation of 240 million people, is hailed as a bastion of moderate Islam, but rights groups say religious intolerance is on the rise amid concerns that too little is being done to address it.
Although Indonesia’s constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion, rights groups argue that the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation has become less tolerant over the past decade and the government is turning a blind eye to the problem.