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Warief Djajanto Basorie, Jakarta | Opinion | Thu, January 30 2014, 9:45 AM

 

Dewi Kanti, an adherent of the Sunda Wiwitan faith native to Cigugur, Kuningan, in West Java, was denied an official marriage certificate.

She wanted to put Sunda Wiwitan as her religion on her resident identity card (KTP). The authorities prevented her from doing so because it was not one of the six religions the Indonesian government officially recognizes: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Dewi left the religion section on her card blank and the consequence was she was refused the marriage certificate even though she had already taken matrimonial vows based on her faith, the reports said.

Children of an unapproved faith are discriminated against in religious instruction in school. They are coerced to take a class in one of the six religions the government accepts or else receive a low mark.

“These are all forms of state discrimination against followers of ancestral faiths indigenous to the archipelago. We should have the right to freedom to worship,” Dewi told a forum of the Coalition of Justice and Disclosure of the Truth (KKPK) at Jakarta’s National Library Nov. 27.

The Jakarta-based Setara Institute, which researches intolerance, recorded 243 cases of freedom of worship violations in 23 provinces from January to November 2013.

The late Nelson Mandela made South Africa a rainbow nation where people of different colors and creeds were meant to be treated equally. To be different but equal is not always the case in Indonesia. To be different and denied is.

Article 3 the 1999 Human Rights Law states “every person has the right to basic human rights protection and basic human freedom without discrimination.”

Similar wording on religious freedom and respect for indigenous identity is found in Article 28I of the amended 1945 Constitution.

However, discrimination, intolerance, intimidation, violence, racism and xenophobia are still found in the country. Indonesia still has to undo this social shackle around its neck that also has multi-layered rings of bias, prejudice and stereotyping.

One move to break that bondage was a workshop on Teaching Respect for All (TRA) organized by the Indonesian National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last Dec. 5-7. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) joined as a resource partner.

The workshop’s objective is to stream TRA in the curricular framework of the country’s education system to counter racism and violence and promote tolerance, said Arief Rahman, executive chair of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO.

The TRA leads to the four pillars of education: learning to know, learning to be, learning to do and learning to live together in harmony, Arief affirmed.

UNESCO launched TRA in January 2012 and designated Indonesia as one of five pilot countries to develop appropriate teaching tools based on good practices on how people can learn to live together with mutual respect and tolerance.

It is only through tolerance that people will be able to understand, appreciate and work with others, according to Hasnah Gasim, the national commission’s coordinator of the Associated Schools Program.

The three-day workshop in Jakarta brought in 20 school heads and teachers, 20 youth organization leaders and 20 journalists. They worked in their respective groups to produce ideas on good practices in a local context for a toolbox in curricular use for children in their formative years in the 8-16 age group.

The youth NGOs discussed communal violence and religious conflicts. They recommended that religious leaders and local informal leaders should be engaged in TRAs particularly in addressing religious-based conflicts.

In schools, the teachers noted inequality, student brawls, bullying and sexual abuse as concerns. They recommended that head teachers develop school policies to adopt TRA material to deal with those issues. The teachers group also recommended the Education and Culture Ministry make TRA national policy.

The journalists discussed peace journalism as a form of journalism that placed nonviolence at the forefront of the news. The group focused on discrimination in the health sector. Low-income patients do not receive proper medical care.

Meanwhile, the government and legislators should review policies that deny Indonesians the right to be different and practices that only fan the flames of intolerance — the freedom to worship without being harassed being one such right.

Deleting the religion section in the mandatory, government-issued resident ID cards could be considered.

Perhaps the best practice in TRA came from Mandela, who died on Dec. 5 last year. After his release from 27 years in prison in 1990, he became South Africa’s first black president in 1994.  Mandela dismantled apartheid, South Africa’s policy of race-based separation. He then built an all-inclusive democracy with a great amount of forgiveness, where prisoner and jailer are equal. That is teaching respect for all.

The writer teaches journalism at the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute (LPDS) in Jakarta.

 

Source: Jakarta Post

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