Yogyakarta Fact-Finding Mission
INDONESIA — From 4 to 7 May 2018, APHR led a delegation of current and former parliamentarians from Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand on a fact-finding mission to the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to explore issues around religious intolerance. The mission was undertaken following calls from parliamentarians, civil society and other key stakeholders who were concerned by what they saw as a rise in religious intolerance and religious-based violence in the region. The MPs were keen to assess the issues and drivers behind the trend and to explore potential policy responses aimed at tackling intolerance, vigilantism and challenges to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Indonesia and elsewhere in the ASEAN region.
By the end of the mission, the MPs concluded that cross-sectoral efforts were urgently needed if Indonesia was to push back against the rising tide of intolerance in Yogyakarta and the rest of the country, highlighting the need for community protection and security efforts from local authorities and the responsibility of parliamentarians not only to ensure that adequate laws are in place, but to also provide oversight of how those laws are implemented.
The mission was organized under an initiative of the regional parliamentary working group on FoRB – a group set up under the APHR FoRB Project. The delegation included working group members Eva Kusuma Sundari (MP, Indonesia) and Rachada Dhnadirek (Former MP, Thailand), as well as Boonyod Sookthinthai (Former MP, Thailand) and representatives from Myanmar.
Throughout the four-day mission, the delegation met and heard from academics, community-leaders, civil society organizations, and faith leaders amongst others, helping the parliamentarians to gain a better understanding of the overall FoRB situation in Yogyakarta. As well as providing the delegation with detailed information and analysis of the underlying factors contributing to the rise in intolerance, local representatives also communicated the direct challenges and difficulties many of them were facing in their work due to the situation. Participating MPs also met with religious minority communities, as well as victims of discrimination and vigilantism to learn about their struggles and initiatives taken to combat religiously-motivated attacks. Meetings with both institutional and community stakeholders provided a chance for the delegation to gather valuable insights and recommendations important to strengthening the promotion and protection of FoRB.
Participating MPs also met with top officials of the Regional House of Representatives, the Regional Police Office of Yogyakarta as well as other arms of the security and intelligence community to learn more about their response to the situation. At the meeting they discussed and relayed key concerns and recommendations garnered from the earlier stakeholder meetings.
At the conclusion of the mission, APHR released a statement, in which the delegation highlighted initial findings and the need for urgent responses – particularly protection and accountability measures from local authorities – vital to counter religious intolerance and protect vulnerable groups from further unequal treatment and discrimination.