The reportedly video-recorded attacks and killings of 3 members of a Muslim sect in Indonesia on Sunday have prompted the nation's top human rights minister to urge police to take action to hold the attackers responsible.
The attack on members of the Ahmadiyah community that left three people dead is a violation of law and human rights, and therefore it should be legally accounted for and thoroughly investigated, Law and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said Monday, according to local news agency Antara.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Sunday he regretted the killings and called for action against the attackers.
The president regrets that there were victims during the incident, a presidential spokesperson said, according to the Jakarta Globe. Steps should be taken against those who violated the law.
A local police chief said about 1,500 people, many wielding machetes, attacked about 20 members of the sect as the group visited their sect's leader, according to the Associated Press. The incident took place in Banten province on the Indonesian island of Java. Police were called but did not arrive in time, the police chief said.
The group's demand was that the sect's members stop their activities, which the group members rejected, according to the Associated Press. The mob also set fire to the group's cars and motorbikes.
Video footage of the attacks on has been aired on Indonesian television, with some of the footage making its way to the Internet.
The killings came at the start of a United-Nations sanctioned event in Jakarta titled World Interfaith Harmony Week.
The head of Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, Din Syamsuddin, in attendance at the conference, urged religious tolerance in the country, but would not comment specifically on Sunday's incident.
I need more information [before I make a comment], Din said, according to Indonesian news portal Kompas.com.
An Indonesian interfaith group said on Monday that it questions the ability of the government to protect religious groups.
This violence has raised doubts about whether the government can provide security for religious groups, a spokesman for a South Sulawesi interfaith forum said, according to the Jakarta post.
The forum asked the government to review a joint ministerial decree restricting the Ahmadiyah's activities, saying it spurred violence and human rights violations.
The Ahmadiyah sect poses some complex problems for our society, said the Jakarta Globe in an editorial on Monday, adding that violence has no place in civilized society.
Do the followers of the sect have a right to practice their religion freely, despite policies and edicts barring them from doing so? What does the Constitution specifically say about the rights of sects such as the Ahmadiyah? the editorial asked.