UN human rights chief raises concerns over Indonesia

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised concerns over the plight of religious minorities in Indonesia.

Navi Pillay has called upon Indonesia to take firm action against attacks on religious minorities.

She met representatives of the Christian, Ahmadiyya and Shia communities in a visit to the country earlier in the month.

In a report by Barnabas Fund, Pillay said she was "distressed" to hear from the groups that they were suffering violent attacks and forced displacement, as well as other forms of discrimination such as being denied identification cards.

"I was also concerned to hear that the police have been failing to provide adequate protection in these cases," she said.

Pillay raised particular concern about the "arbitrary and discriminatory" enforcement of Sharia law in Aceh, where some people are being punished by stoning or caning.

There have been reports from Christians in Indonesia of forced church closures, even where the churches have secured legal permission.

The GKI Yasmin church in Bogor and HKBP Filadelfia church in Bekasi were both closed by the local mayor amid pressure from extremists, despite the courts ruling that the churches should remain open.

Both congregations have resorted to meeting in the open air, but even these outdoor services have been the victim of harassment by local Muslims.

Barnabas Fund reports that on one occasion, an Islamist mob threw bags of urine, sewage, oil, rotten eggs and stones at the Filadelfia congregation.

Pillay said that raids on places where people gather were "creating an environment of intimidation and fear".

She urged the Indonesian government to take action against "narrow and extremist interpretations of Islam" and make sure that the international human rights treaties it has signed are reflected in domestic law.