I am a Catholic Priest and professor of philosophy in Jakarta. In
Indonesia we learnt that you are going to bestow this year's World
Stateman Award to our President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono because of
his merits regarding religious tolerance.
This is a shame, a shame for you. It discredits any claim you might
make as a an institution with moral intentions.
How can you take such a decision without asking concerned people in
Indonesia? Hopefully you have not made this decission in response to
prodding by people of our Government or of the entourage of the
Do you not know about the growing difficulties of Christians to get
permits for opening places of prayer, about the growing number of
forced closures of churches, about the growth of regulations tha make
worshipping for minorities more difficult, thus about growing
intolerance on the grassroot level? And particularly, have you never
heard about the shameful and quite dangerous attitudes of hardline
religious groups towards so called deviant teachings, meaning members
of the Achmadiyah and the Shia communities, and the government of
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono just doing nothing and saying nothing to
protect them? Hundreds of their people have under Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono's presidentship been driven out of their houses, they still
live miserably in places like sports halls, there have allready
Achmadis and Shia people been killed (so that the question arises
whether Indonesia will deteriorate to conditions like Pakistan dan
Iran [favor of President G. W. Bush] where every months hundreds of
Shia people are being killed because of religious motivations)?
Do you not know that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his up
to now 8 1/2 years in office has not a single time said something to
the Indonesian people, that they should respect their minorities? That
he has shamefully avoided responsibility regarding growing violence towards Achmadiyah and Shia people?
Again, whom did you ask for information before making you award
choice? What could be your motivation to bestow upon this President a
reward for religious tolerance who so obviously lacks any courage to
do his duty protecting minorities?
I have to add that I am not a radical, not even a "human right
extremist" (if such exist). I am just appaled about so much hypocrisy.
You are playing in the hands of those - still few - radicals that want
to purify Indonesia of all what they regard as heresies and heathen.
Franz Magnis-Suseno SJ
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