EU CONDEMNED FOR FAILING TO INTERVENE IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CRISIS
GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has condemned the EU for failing to take action to stamp out a growing wave of religious violence and attacks on hundreds of churches and mosques in Indonesia.
In April she raised the issue with EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, calling for the EU to lead international pressure after reports of official failure to tackle an escalation of religiously-motivated attacks in the predominantly Muslim nation.
She cited recent events, including: • Christians being banned from worship • Police turning a blind eye to physical harassment of Christian pastors • The destruction of more than 100 churches in West Java since 2001 • The burning down of four mosques and numerous houses of moderate Muslims in September 2005 • The beheading of three teenage girls on their way to a Christian school
“These shocking reports reveal a growing crisis of religious freedom in Indonesia and the government must bring the violence to an end immediately,” said Dr Lucas.
“Indonesia is a pluralist society and the government and all its religious and ethnic communities must respect the fundamental human right of freedom to worship.”
But Mrs Ferrero-Waldner told the MEP it welcomed the Indonesian government’s approach to upholding minority rights and would not put it under any public pressure, preferring instead to stick to ‘constructive dialogue’.
Dr Lucas said the decision was a dereliction of duty which made the EU partly complicit in the ongoing religious violence.
“There is a clear need for the international community to put the Indonesian authorities under pressure to stop the closures of churches and other places of worship and investigate all allegations of complicity in religious attacks by police and security forces,” she said.
“The EU is committed to the defence of human rights and, as a leading trading partner of Indonesia, it has a duty to take the lead in applying this pressure.
“The Commission has admitted that though it is ‘concerned’ about the situation it will not apply any public pressure on Indonesia. This is a shameful dereliction of duty which makes the EU partly responsible for the ongoing violation of religious freedom and other fundamental human rights in Indonesia.”