The Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam / FPI) has been beefing up its credentials as thugs earlier this afternoon. In so doing it is providing the government all the necessary proof and evidence that this organization needs to be disbanded. The fact that it has been allowed to exist for as long as it has and be allowed to commit a long list of breaches of the law should be an embarrassment to a government that is trying to sell Indonesia as a peaceful and tolerant destination to spend your hard earned cash. Not only is it an embarrassment it is a joke and makes a mockery of not only Pancasila (today is the commemoration of the Five Principles philosophy as the State ideology).
It is being reported that earlier today at about 14.30 the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion (Aliansi Kebangsaan untuk Kebebasan Berkeyakinan dan Beragama / AKKBB) was set upon by a couple of hundred thugs from the FPI at Monas (Soekarno's phallic ode to himself and his manhood -- photo by someone named Murbiyanto) close to the Gambir railway station. There are seven people seriously injured including Syafii Anwar (Director of ICIP) and Muhammad Guntur Romli (an activist from Liberal Islam Network) both of whom are being treated in RSPAD Gatot Subroto. The list of injured also includes Ahmad Suaedy (the Executive Director of the Wahid Institute).
The AKKBB were holding a rally at Monas to mark the birth of Pancasila on 1 June. This was to be marked with a joint prayer in recognition of diversity and tolerance among other things.
It is high time the government acted against thugs and others seeking to impose their will through violence and intimidation. Any failure to act is nothing more than condoning the violence and condoning the methods used to suppress free expression. If Indonesia is truly a tolerant country then now is the time for the government to step up to the plate by clearly and unequivocally stating that this thuggery perpetrated by the FPI or their supporters will not be tolerated and then prosecute anyone breaking the law to the full extent possible under the prevailing laws.
Unfortunately, I am not an optimist on this front. Indonesia has so much potential and there are so many of us who hope for her to achieve that potential. Yet, the government's record to date has been woeful. We have just commemorated 10 years of reformation but the truth be told, reformasi will never be fully achieved until their is justice. Justice not only for all of the victims of the New Order's excesses but for more recent excesses as well such as the killings at Trisakti / Semanggi and the violence of May 1998 and more recently the mud flow disaster at Sidoarjo.
I live with hope because for where there is no hope there is only death!