Indonesia Inquisition Ministry Turns Guns Against Buddhists – Statue Downed at Islamist Behest


Reprinted by popular demand    Originally Posted: 03 Apr 2011 12:24 AM PDT

Busily brow-beating one religious minority ( Ahmadiyah ) the Ministry of Religious Affairs has still found time to bully  Buddhists too, with a new diktat ordering them to remove their statue in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, ‘after it raised the ire of Muslims in the area.’ Jakarta Globe 3/4

Buddhist Statue Brought Down by Bigots

It’s really about time that some of these fanatics learned to control their “ire” which as a rule is just an expression of arrogant triumphalism – ‘we got the numbers, what we say goes’ – but that won’t happen with a man of Suryadharma Ali’s mediaeval mind-set runniing the Ministry. His subordinate, Budi Setiawan, the ministry’s director general of Buddhist affairs, announced the ministerial edict on Friday, adding that no appeal would countenanced.

RRA readers will recall our report in October, in which we described the six-meter high statue, atop a tall temple at Vihara Tri Ratna Kota, and the goat-beard bigots who wanted it shifted. On Friday, Setiawan claimed there had been an ‘agreement’ among among Buddhists, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI – the so–called ‘scholars’ council) and the local government but the JG says the victims dispute this.

‘Veryanto Sitohang, head of the Buddhist United Alliance of North Sumatra (ASB), condemned the decision on Friday, saying it “clearly violated human rights and law” by siding with Muslims.’

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To save you the hassle of checking back through our old posts, I am politely appending the relevant parts below. RRA 20/10/10

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An odd report in the Jakarta Post today on how a Buddhist leader was ‘forced to sign an agreement under pressure’ just a week before he suffered a fatal accident.
It seems the Mayor of Tanjung Balai, in North Sumatra, a certain Sutrisno Hadi, has ordered that a Buddhist statue be removed from a Buddhist temple, which is where you’d think it belonged. He claimed this sacrilegious act was motivated by ‘public pressures,’ but others say it was ‘permeated by political motives.’
Mr.W. Lie. from the city’s ethnic Chinese community is ‘shocked’ and says that the so-called ‘agreement’ under which his Chinese colleagues agreed to let the statue be taken was ‘not their real wishes,’ and the temple leader, Suwanto Saima ‘was forced to sign.’

Buddhist Statue Targetted by Islamists

“Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to ask who intimidated him,” said Lie, because the man was dead within a week.
Lie added that the Buddhist community were NOT willing to see the statue removed. “We won’t remove the statue,” adding that Buddhists were ‘afraid of provoking trouble’ if they opposed the plan. The majority of Buddhists in the city ‘opted to keep silent to avoid controversy.’

So who’s behind this authorised sectarian vandalism? Naturally, we suspected the FPI, and sure enough, a report in Kompas 31/5 stated that they were involved. But it’s a complicated saga.
Enter Veryanto Sitohang, of the North Sumatra Allliance.
“The Mayor’s son, Eka, is currently vying for the city’s top position. Based on information, he is being pressuried by an Islamci organisation to remove the statue as a condition of their support.”

This gets weirder, for the election was scheduled in August but the Constitutional Court ordered a re-run after the Eka team was ‘proven to be involved in vote buying.’ Now the re-run has been delayed because the Election Commission is short of funds!

Mayor of Tanjung Balai, Dr. H. Sutrisno Hadi

Mayor Sutrisno denied it all, of course, ‘nothing to do with the election,’ just ‘reflecting public demand.’
He claimed the meeting where the agreement was signed was attended by everyone, including ‘the police, military and public prosecutors office.’
Very bizarre kind of place, this, where cops and army officers are involved in relocating a statue.
But disregarding the election fiddling, and why any candidate ‘proven’ to engage in vote-buying would not be excluded from further participation anyway, It seemed worth checking out the recent history, and here’s a clip I dug up from Berita Sore (PM NEWS) 30/6/10


TG.BALAI (AFP): Dozens of Islamic Combined Unity (GIB) Network cities came to the office of the DPRD (regional parliament) Network to get pledges on the removal of the Statue of Vihara Tri Ratna on Water Street on Tuesday (29 / 6)….those present included GIB leader Osama Binladen (RRA – seriously!) accompanied by Ustad M. Joseph Pak Zailani, Mr Taufik and…other residents, who asked questions in respect of the letter of the Ministry of Religion’s Guidance Directorate re the General Buddhist Society numbered: DJ. VI/3/BA.02/604/2010 from Jakarta on June 8, 2010 to the Chairman of Tri Ratna temple…Taking into account suggestions from members of the Commission A DPRD and for the sake of religious harmony in the city and its surrounding area, notice is given to the monastery for the management to move the statue of Buddha Amitabha to the court of the temple or other place of honor.

The report continues at length, and I won’t overload your circuits with Indonesian bureaucratic machinations, but it did refer to the GIB’s disappointment with Eka, who evidently was not being zealous enough to please them.

Whatever the ins-and-outs of local electioneering up in Sumatra, we think the photograph of the Buddhists’ statue looks grand, and the Islamist demand for its de-thronement is a sleazy sectarian echo of the Taliban scum in Afghanistan who dynamited those magnificent statues in the face of worldwide outcry.