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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             29  July 2011

Religious sect members get light sentences

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An Indonesian court on Thursday sentenced religious fanatics who killed three members of a minority Muslim sect in a frenzied mob attack to between three and six months in jail.

Dani bin Misra, a 17-year-old who smashed a victim’s skull with a stone, received three months for manslaughter.

Idris bin Mahdani, who led the mob of more than 1,000 Muslims in the February attack, was convicted of illegal possession of a machete and received five months and 15 days in jail.

Twelve people stood trial but none faced murder charges in what human rights activists said was a travesty of justice in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The unprovoked violence against the Ahmadiyah sect members in Cikeusik, western Java, was one of the most horrific in a long line of attacks on the minority group in Indonesia in recent years.

Ahmadiyah, unlike mainstream Muslims, do not believe Mohammed was the last prophet and are regarded as heretics and blasphemers by conservatives in places like Indonesia and Pakistan.

A secretly filmed video of the attack brought religious violence in Indonesia under the international spotlight, and provoked condemnation from the United States, Italy and international rights groups.

“When the Cikeusik video went viral, people around the world were shocked and appalled by the savagery of the mob kicking and slashing three men to death,” Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for Asia Phil Robertson said.

“But instead of charging the defendants with murder and other serious crimes, prosecutors came up with an almost laughable list of ‘slap-on-the wrist’ charges.

“The Cikeusik trial sends the chilling message that attacks on minorities like the Ahmadiyah will be treated lightly by the legal system. This is a sad day for justice in Indonesia, ” he said.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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