INDONESIA: Islamic hardliners detain transwomen

The Observers (30.05.2018) – https://bit.ly/2J5qviMIn West Java, Indonesia, a group of Islamic hardliners patrolling the town of Cianjur harassed and physically restrained four transgender women last Friday. All the while, police officers accompanying the group on their patrol simply looked on. A video of this scene has since circulated online.

 

Last week, men were patrolling an area of Cianjur called Cilaku, on the lookout for alcohol and for food stalls open during the day during the holy month of Ramadan, according to the local police chief. Some of the men in the patrol belonged to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a self-appointed morality brigade known for its violent tactics, including attacks on bars and on people selling food during Ramadan.

 

At one point, as the video shows, they started harassing two transwomen. They then forced their way into a building, shouting all the while, and brought out two more transwomen. All four were lined up against a wall outside, and surrounded by the large group of men, who continued to shout at them. One of the men preached loudly and forced them to repeat a promise that they would stop dressing in a feminine way.

 

Coconuts Jakarta, an online news site, translated one of the men’s orders to the transwomen: “Go ahead and sing, but wear macho outfits so that nobody will be attracted.”

 

At the end of the video, a man splashes water from a bottle onto the transwomens’ faces, and orders them to wash away their make-up.

 

At several points in the video, a uniformed police officer can be seen standing in the group of men, watching the scene.

 

The Cianjur police chief confirmed to local media that police officers were present during this incident, but said they hadn’t done anything wrong; he claimed their presence had ensured the situation remained “safe and conducive”.

 

While there are no laws against being transgender in Indonesia, transgender people are regularly targets of violence, harassment and discrimination. In May, a video circulated showing police officers publicly shaming transwomen in Aceh province.

 

Naila Rizqi Zakiah is a public defender with LBH Masyarakat, a Jakarta-based NGO that works with marginalised communities, including the LGBT community.

 

We are in contact with friends in the area where this video was filmed, who have assured us that the transwomen have moved to a safe place. We are now trying to get into contact with the victims to talk to them about helping them press charges. In any case, we intend to file a complaint.

 

This sort of incident is unfortunately quite common, and is happening in many areas all over Indonesia. What you see in this video is an example of the repressive attitude of both government and society toward LGBT people in Indonesia.

 

We carried out research on cases of harassment and discrimination of LGBT people throughout 2017. We counted that last year there were 973 such cases that were reported in the media. We found that 26 percent of victims were targeted because they were gay or lesbian, while nearly 74 percent were targeted because they were transgender.

 

We also noted who the perpetrators were: in 55 percent of cases, they were from law enforcement or government agencies, while in 45 percent of cases they were from civil society.

 

“Even progressive parties aren’t speaking out against abuses faced by the LGBT community”

 

It’s a very alarming situation. The Islamic Defenders Front has become a sort of moral police, targeting the LGBT community as well as all sorts of ethnic and religious minorities. Unfortunately, the police tend to agree and support these groups who want to punish what they call the “immoral community”. [Editor’s Note: a recent survey showed that 87 percent of Indonesians considered the LGBT community “a threat to private or public life”.]

 

Several events have taken place in the last few years that have worsened the climate for LGBT people in Indonesia. In 2016, LGBT groups were barred from universities. In 2017, a conservative group called the Family Love Alliance brought a petition to the Constitutional Court to try to criminalise homosexuality. The court rejected it, but now our country’s parliament is considering a ban.

 

There are so many politicians and civil society leaders who talk about wanting to criminalise homosexuality. I think cases like the one we saw in the video will keep happening if they keep stoking anti-LGBT sentiment. And at the moment, with regional elections coming up in June, even progressive parties aren’t speaking out against abuses faced by the LGBT community.

………………………………….

If you want to be regularly informed about different violations of human rights in the world, click here for a free subscription to our newsletters!

Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/  




A lost childhood – Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Painting by an SB OverSeas beneficiary in Lebanon

By Jade-Leigh Tenwick, Communications and Development Officer at SB OverSeas

 

This story is part of our child marriage series which aims to highlight this increasingly prevelant practice amongst the refugee community in Lebanon.

 

SB Overseas (31.05.2018) – This article tells the story of Ream, an eighteen year old who attends one of our SB OverSeas centre. SB OverSeas has three centres in Lebanon where we run education and empowerment programs.

 

Ream left Syria at the age of twelve shortly after the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. A conflict which led her not only to lose her home, but also her childhood and education.

 

Ream, along with her family, followed the same path as many other Syrians escaping the conflict to Lebanon. She was enthusiastic to start her life in Lebanon and continue her education. She dreamed of being a human rights lawyer, giving a voice to those who had none.

 

This dream did not last long. Registration requirements and safety concerns of her family thwarted her educational opportunities.

 

Left at home. Without routine. The monotony and the hopelessness of the situation began to erode at the once happy and ambitious child. Her mental health deteriorated. Her mother charged her with more responsibility in the household in a bid to lift her out of her depression. This was her existence for two years.

 

At the age of fourteen, Ream was told about her impending marriage to a family friend. This was her chance to start a new life. Excited for the wedding day, she dreamed about wearing her white dress. After an idyllic day, she was filled of hope for a new life with her husband. A husband nearly double her age.

 

This story follows the same narrative as the other stories we have heard. Cracks began to appear and her feelings of hope shrunk. They were unable to register the marriage as Ream was too young. This legal status had consequences for her the child she was bearing. Without legal status, the child would be born statelessness – a life without clear rights or legal status.

 

Their problems also extended to the husband’s family. Living in a small space caused tensions to heighten. She tried to ease this by shouldering more household responsibilities. This included not only household chores, but walking to retrieve water. Overwhelmed by the responsibilities and pregnancy, she would often find herself in tears.

 

With problems escalating, she felt more and more overwhelmed and asked for a divorce so she could return to her family. Her husband refused. He threatened her stating he would not register the marriage, renounce their child and marry another woman. The ramifications of these actions were sufficient to convince her to stay.

 

Things did not get better. Her husband began to beat her, sometimes daily, and she worried about the physical affect of the trauma on her unborn child. She fled her family to seek their support. Yet, they were not as supportive as she had hoped. With over 70% of Syrian refugees living below the poverty line in Lebanon, food is scare and hunger is rife. They told her to forget about her old family and to return to her new one.

 

Ream had to choose either to be vulnerable and alone on the streets or to return to her husband. She chose the latter. With her baby born, she had not only herself to worry about, but another human. With another mouth to feed, she was often hungry, barely able to provide for her child.

 

Her health deteriorated and her husband decided took her back to the family visiting her sporadically. After three months, her family decided it was time for her to fend for herself. Left out on the street, she begged her husband to look after her and her son. He rented a small room for her. This came at a cost. He appeared to only visit her when he wanted to have a target for his anger and frustration.

 

Her family realising the extent of the situation, took her back in. After three years of limbo, Ream is now trying to rebuild her life and find the girl who once dreamed of being a human rights lawyer. She comes to SB OverSeas centre four times a week and attends our courses. At our centre, she also speaks of her story with the other girls to raise awareness of her and many other girls’ experiences with child marriage.

………………………………….

If you want to be regularly informed about different violations of human rights in the world, click here for a free subscription to our newsletters!

Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/womens-rights-gender-equality/

List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/  




BELGIUM / ECJ: Flanders ban on ritual slaughter is legal, says court

By Alan Hope

 

The Brussels Times (30.05.2018) – https://bit.ly/2kAl6WjA ban introduced in Flanders to limit ritual slaughter – killing animals without stunning them first – has been declared lawful by the European Court of Justice.

 

The measure is aimed at limiting the number of animals slaughtered according to Muslim rite, by making it illegal to carry out slaughters in temporary abattoirs, which were previously opened up at the end of Ramadan to cope with the demand. Regulated slaughterhouses are still able to carry out the procedure, but have been shown in the past to be unable to keep up with demand.

 

Under normal circumstances, when an animal is slaughtered it is first stunned, by a captive bolt in the case of cows and calves, and by electrodes in the case of pigs. Under the rules of halal, the animal must be conscious at the moment of slaughter, when it also has to be exsanguinated. Jewish kosher rituals have roughly similar rules and are carried out by certified butchers (shochet), but there is not the pressure caused by an annual festival, so registered abattoirs are well able to keep up with demand.

 

Muslim representatives had taken the Flemish ban to the European Court, arguing that it represented a block on freedom of religion – a position previously upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, on a proposal to ban ritual slaughter altogether. The EU court rejected that argument.

 

Earlier this week, the Walloon parliament approved a ban on ritual slaughter, which becomes law on 1 June but will only come into operation on 1 September next year.

 

Meanwhile the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, Eid Al-Adha, takes place this year at the end of the fast of Ramadan, on 21 August.

 

See the full court decision at https://bit.ly/2JdWvEJ.

………………………………….

If you want to be regularly informed about different violations of human rights in the world, click here for a free subscription to our newsletters!

Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/




RUSSIA: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

OPEN CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

 

STATEMENT OF FACTS AS OF MAY 24, 2018

 

Belgorod, Belgorod Region:

  • Sergey Aleksandrovich Voykov, DOB 28 August 1975, charged under Article 282.2 (2) of the Criminal Code
  • Anatoliy Aleksandrovich Shalyapin, DOB 21 01 1994, charged under Article 282.2 (2) of the Criminal Code

 
Kemerovo, Kemerovo Region:

 

  • Open criminal case under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, 12 searches in the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses conducted, nobody has been charged

 
Mayskiy, Republic of Kabardino Balkaria:

 

  • Yuriy Viktorovich Zalipayev, DOB 8 October 1962, charged under Article 280(1) and 282(1) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement

 
Orenburg, Orenburg Region:

 

  • Aleksandr Gennadyevich Suvorov, DOB 20 April 1980, charged under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention
  • Vladimir Yuryevich Kochnev, DOB 15 October 1979, charged under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention
  • Vladislav Sergeyevich Kolbanov, DOB 27 November 1992, charged under Article 282.3(1) of the Criminal Code, currently under house arrest
  • Olga Timofeyevna Sandu, DOB 31 March 1984, charged under Article 282.2(2), recognizance agreement
  • Pavel Aleksandrovich Lekontsev, DOB 5 July 1981, charged under Article 282.2(2), recognizance agreement
  • Aleksey Nikolayevich Matveev, DOB 23 April 1983, charged under Article 282.2(2), recognizance agreement
  • Sergey Viktorovich Logunov, DOB 28 November 1962, charged under Article 282.2(2), recognizance agreement
  • Nikolay Nikolayevich Zhugin, DOB 14 February 1976, charged under Article 282.2(2), recognizance agreement
  • Fail Samigullovich Shangareyev, DOB 16 December 1960, charges unknown, recognizance agreement

 
Oryol, Oryol Region:

 

  • Dennis Christensen Ole, DOB 18 December 1972, charged under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention
  • Sergey Vladimirovich Skrynnikov, DOB 30 October 1962, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code

 
Perm, Perm Region:

 

  • Aleksandr Vasilyevich Solovyev (DOB 13 February 1970), charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, currently under house arrest

 
Polyarny, Murmansk Region:

 

  • Roman Nikolayevich Markin, DOB 18 March 1974, charged under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention
  • Viktor Fedorovich Trofimov, DOB 26 March 1957, charged under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention

 

Prokhladny, Republic of Kabardino Balkaria:

 

  • Arkadya Akopovich Akopyan, DOB 28 May 1948, charged under Article 282 (1) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement

 
Shuya, Ivanovo Region:

 

  • Dmitriy Vasilyevich Mikhailov, DOB 25 October 1977, suspected under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, no charges yet

 
Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan:

 

  • Anatoly Sergeyevich Vilitkevich, DOB 15 September 1986, charged under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention

 
Vladivostok, Vladivostok Region:

 

  • Valentin Pavlovich Osadchuk, DOB 15 March 1978, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, currently in pre-trial detention
  • Nailya Sunatovna Kogay, DOB 5 October 1951, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement
  • Yelena Viktorovna Zayshchuk, DOB 25 August 1934, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement
  • Raisa Mikhailovna Usanova, DOB 1947, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement
  • Nina Ivanovna Purge, DOB 1940, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement
  • Lyubov Aleksandrovna Galaktionova, DOB 1942, charged under Article 282.2(2) of the Criminal Code, recognizance agreement

………………………………….

If you want to be regularly informed about different violations of human rights in the world, click here for a free subscription to our newsletters!

Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/




ALGERIA: Two more Protestant churches closed down by government

World Watch Monitor (29.05.2018) – https://bit.ly/2IYNDUb – The authorities in Algeria have closed down two more Protestant churches, amidst growing pressure on the country’s Christian minority.

 

Over the past weekend, police sealed off two churches in the north-eastern province of Kabylie, where much of the growth in the Church is happening.

 

One church is in Ait-Mellikeche, a district of Tazmalt, in the Bejaia region (200km east of Algiers, the capital). It was established in 2005, and more than 200 attended its weekly service. It affiliated to the main umbrella organization for Protestant churches, Eglises Protestantes d’Algerie (EPA), in 2007.

 

The notice to close the church was unexpected, as one of its leaders – who wants to remain anonymous – told World Watch Monitor:

 

“The officers came in on Friday morning. They simply sealed off the main entrance without a prior notice, as was the case before with other EPA-affiliated churches.”

 

Moreover there is no notification explaining the reasons behind the closure.

 

Yesterday (28 May), some leaders of the church went to police in Bejaia in an attempt to understand the authorities’ motives and to try to get them to lift the closure measure.

 

But “We were sent back empty-handed” one told WWM.

 

“The police told us to send a request to the Prefet of Bejaia, the only one who can do something since he was the one who ordered the closure”.

 

The other church to be closed this past weekend is in Maatkas town, 20 km from the main city of Tizi-Ouzou, 100km east of Algiers. Again, the order came from the Prefect, this time of Tizi-Ouzou.

 

The church of Maatkas is a nascent community, which gathers sixty members for its weekly service. It’s not yet affiliated to the EPA.

 

One of its leaders, again on condition of anonymity, told World Watch Monitor that the closure was not justified.

 

He said he got a call from a police officer saying: “I’m calling to inform you that we have received an order to close your church”.

 

On Saturday morning, a group of police officers sealed off the main entrance of the building. They also ordered the church leaders not to open until further notice.

 

The Algerian government has been criticised for discrimination against the country’s Christian minority. Churches and individual Christians have faced increased restrictions in recent months, raising concerns that these pressures signal a “coordinated campaign of intensified action against churches by the governing authorities”, according to Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern.

 

In addition to church closures, individual Christians have faced legal harassments in recent months, as WWM has reported.

 

On 18 May, EPA called on the Algerian government to lift its measure for closing down churches, and to give equal treatment to the Christian minority, as stated by the constitution:

 

“As full citizens, we call on the highest authorities in the country to ensure that all the fundamental rights of the citizen are protected, regardless of their religious affiliation.”

 

EPA had been officially recognised by the government since 1974. But in 2012, new laws meant that it had to re-register. Despite meeting all the legal requirements and applying for re-registration in 2013, the EPA is yet to receive an official government response, meaning, technically, it lacks official legal status.

 

Last month, three pastors from Algeria visited the USA, UK and France to ask that their leaders lobby the Algerian government to stop its current crackdown.

 

Mustafa Krim, Ali Khidri and Youssef Ourahmane, representing EPA, wanted to ensure that Christians are provided for under Algerian law, that the laws are respected and implemented and that Algeria fulfils its commitment to freedom of religion or belief as stated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

They are lobbying for the de-regulation of places of worship, official recognition for the EPA, an end to anti-proselytism laws, and freedom to import Christian materials.

………………………………….

If you want to be regularly informed about different violations of human rights in the world, click here for a free subscription to our newsletters!

Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/