Religious discrimination in Indonesia impacts Papuans
Discrimination against religious minorities in Indonesia involves removing children from West Papua.
Reports that Papuan children are being removed from their homes for 're-education' in Muslim schools in Java are true, says an Indonesian human rights researcher.
Andreas Harsono says there is a community of young Papuans in Jakarta and many fall into petty crime.
A recent United States report says there were 264 cases of attacks against religious minorities in Indonesia in 2012 and extremist groups face few consequences for their actions.
Andreas Harsono spoke to Alex Perrottet about religious discrimination in West Papua and other parts of Indonesia.
ANDREAS HARSONO: I am suspicious because they were just so young. They're younger than 18 years old - the legal age for an individual to work in Indonesia. Many of these kids are neglected. They were initially sent to a madrassa in Java, and they are involved in a lot of petty crime.
ALEX PERROTTET: Are you aware of how this starts in terms of the system of removing children in West Papua and how they go about doing it?
AH: Basically, the lack of education in their homeland, and they want to study. And Java Island, in the eyes of many Papuans, is the most developed area in Indonesia. If you are sent to Java, it seems like you will get everything - education, especially.
AP: So, in that sense, at least, you can say that there's some voluntary aspect to it and they might very willingly go along?
AH: Yes. Some of them are willing to go to Java, some of them. I found three siblings - two sisters and one brother. They were all sent at the same time to a madrassa in Bandung.
AP: There are other accusations that it's increasingly hard to build churches throughout Indonesia, yet in West Papua there are an increasing number of mosques being set up. Are you aware of those sorts of things happening in West Papua?
AH: President Yudhoyono's administration passed regulations in 2006 that make it extremely difficult for a minority to build a house of worship. Meanwhile, according to the data from the National Commissions of Human Rights, 85% of houses of worship in Indonesia have no building permit, and most of them are mosques. So if you want to build a church or a Buddhist temple, Hindu temple, it is very difficult. And these are the ones that the Sunni militant organisation attacked - those churches. Between 2005 and 2011 there are at least 430 churches being attacked, burned down.
AP: The extremists that you describe, does that paint a good picture of everyday Indonesia or is it certainly a minority of the hardline Sunni Muslims who are perpetrating that violence?
AH: I believe there are extremists everywhere, not only in Asia, but also in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are minorities. Extremists everywhere are minorities. The thing is, the Muslim majority, they are silent, they remain silent, or at least they're ignoring and kind of saying they are trying to be pure or radical Muslims. Let them do it. I'm not going to worry so much about them because they're not going to touch me.
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