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ICC Note: Indonesia’s President, Susilo Yudhoyono, was recently granted an award for promoting religious freedom by a U.S. based inter-faith group. The award comes as a shock to representatives of certain Christian communities as well as other religious minorities that have faced harassment, forced closure of places of worship, and even violence at the hands of the Muslim majority. They say the president has done little if anything to prevent the “rising wave of religious intolerance” that is overtaking Indonesia. 
5/11/2013 Indonesia (The Jakarta Globe) – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must show that he deserves an award for upholding religious freedom by doing more for victims of persecution in his own country, rights activists said on Friday.
Representatives from the Solidarity for Victims of Religious Freedom Violations (Sobat KBB) made the call during a visit to the presidential advisory council in Jakarta to deliver an open letter to Yudhoyono.
Reverend Palti Panjaitan, whose congregation in Bekasi has for years been fighting for the right to worship at its own church, said the coalition wanted to remind Yudhoyono that he had failed to protect the rights of minority groups to worship peacefully, despite the fact that he was due to be conferred the World Statesman Award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith group, later this month.
“We’re here as victims and there are bound to be more victims. We came to say that he has never resolved the religious conflicts in the country and has focused more on foreign issues,” Palti said.
The representatives, including members of the Shiite and Ahmadiyah Muslim communities, met with Albert Hasibuan, Yudhoyono’s adviser on justice and human rights.
In their open letter to the president, they called for him to “immediately afford us protection and end all forms of discrimination that we continue to face to this day.”
“If the Appeal of Conscience Foundation plans to give you an award at the end of May for your contribution to upholding religious freedom, then our wish is that before you accept it, you should act quickly and firmly, and in line with the Constitution and prevailing laws, to uphold freedom of religion, of belief and of worship in Indonesia,” the letter read. “Only a move like that would prove that you are worthy of the award.”
The ACF hands out the World Statesman Award annually to “heads of state who have exemplified their commitment to freedom, human rights, peace and respect for religious and ethnic diversity, and endeavor to advance these essential democratic values on the international scene.”
The Human Rights Working Group, an Indonesian watchdog that is part of Sobat KBB, was among the first to criticize the ACF’s decision to honor Yudhoyono.
It said in a statement on Monday that there were “several reasons why SBY doesn’t deserve the award.”
“On cases of [religious-based] violence and intolerance, the president has failed to uphold the law in a fair manner, both in preventing violence committed in the name of religion and in ensuring that the victims receive justice,” Muhammad Choirul Anam, the HRWG deputy director, said in the statement.
He also accused officials in the Yudhoyono administration of being involved in acts of intolerance and even persecuting victims. “Another reason that SBY doesn’t deserve the award is because he has far too often remained silent on the rights abuses suffered by members of minority faiths in Indonesia,” Choirul said.

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