By The Global Journal | April 18, 2012 - 16:00 GMT
Indonesia's recent indictment of Alexander Aan, a civil servant who declared himself an atheist on Facebook, led the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to issue a statement today (18 April) condemning the charges filed by a local court. The independent body urged the government to ensure freedom of religion was respected in Indonesia.
The charges against Aan are listed as “blasphemy, disseminating religious hatred on the Internet and persuading others to embrace atheism”. The case is centred on his creation of a Facebook group for atheists, and writing “God doesn’t exist” on his Facebook profile — actions that could see Aan facing up to six years in prison. The Hong Kong-based AHRC pressed the Indonesian government to stop the court proceeding with the trial, emphasizing “what Alexander has done does not pose a threat to public order”.
The group also stressed that the arrest went against Indonesia's constitution and international commitments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Taking the opportunity to redefine “freedom of religion”, the AHRC said it was “essential to emphasize that freedom of religion does not simply protect theistic beliefs but also non-theistic and atheistic beliefs”.
After publishing his online comment last January, Aan was the victim of violence in his hometown. Indonesian and international activists have circulated petitions to have the charges against Ann dropped.
(Photo © DR)
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