Outlawing Witchcraft? Outlaw Bakor Pakem!

Indonesia’s legislators seem intent on going ahead with their plan to criminalise witchcraft. I’ve already posted on that, but, on reflection, it seems apposite to review what other evil phenomena should also be outlawed.

How about Bakor Pakem?




Bakor Pakem?

It sounds like the name of some comic-book monster, like H.P.Lovecraft’s Yog Sothoth, or the Russian witch Baba Yaga, or the Scots cannibal, Sawney Bean. A name that mums use to make their children be good, as in George III’s reign, English mothers told the kids to behave, or ‘Boney’ would be after them from across the Channel!

But Bakor Pakem is no mythical monster. It’s an all too real monstrosity.

I have posted often and long on the iniquities of the MUI but Bakor Pakem has had less attention, partly, I suppose, because it is such a moronic idea, the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Badan Koordinasi Pengawas Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat or Bakor Pakem)

Even to name an organisation in such a way suggests irrationality on the part of those who invented it, and anyone who serves on it surely lowers him or herself in the eyes of anyone with a grain of sense.

If some sociologist wants to research groups who spend their time on mystical beliefs, so be it. Some US or UK university would probably  give them a grant to do so!

But here in Indonesia, they play their infantile, inquisitional games on the tax-payers’ tab!

…Human Rights Watch called on the government to amend or repeal its blasphemy law and abolish the Islamist board known as Bakor Pakem, which formally sits in the Attorney General’s Office during investigations of alleged religious offenses….

tajul Tajul – Victim of Bakor Pakem

The Sampang district court on July 12 found Shia cleric Tajul Muluk guilty of blasphemy for his religious teachings. Under Indonesian law, blasphemy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/12/indonesia-shia-cleric-convicted-blasphemy


The Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Badan Koordinasi Pengawas Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat or Bakor Pakem) is a coordinating body under Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office with branches in every province and regency under local prosecutors’ offices. According to the 2004 Public Prosecution Service Law, Bakor Pakem has the responsibility to provide “oversight in respect of religious beliefs that could endanger society and the state.”

Heck, they must have borrowed the idea from that old 1968 movie about 17th Century England,  ‘Witch-Finder General,’ I think it was called. But a bit of research shows that the Olde England version was never authorised by any Government, simply took viglante action.

Not here and now.

Indonesia’s Bakor Pakem normally sits under the intelligence division of the public prosecution office, and works closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the police, the military, local governments, and religious establishments.

Scary stuff – and it gets scarier!

Bakor Pakem has been extremely influential when pressing the government to ban religious groups,

Human Rights Watch said. Bakor Pakem recommended the banning of the Ahmadiyah faith in April 2008, and two months later it was banned.

segel%20masjid%20ahmadiyah Sacrilege against Ahmadiyah

In Dharmasraya, West Sumatra, Bakor Pakem led the prosecution of Alexander An, an administrator of the “Minang Atheist” Facebook group. He was eventually acquitted of blasphemy but in June 2012 the Sijunjung court sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison and a fine of IDR100 million (around US$11,000), for inciting public unrest via his Facebook account.

  • alexatheistaan Alex, another victim of Bakor Pakem
  • Bakor Pakem also played a role in initiating the prosecution of Andreas Guntur, the leader of the spiritual group Amanat Keagungan Ilahi, who was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in March 2012 by the Klaten court, Central Java, for blasphemy for alleged unconventional Islamic teachings.


= internat covenant

Indonesia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides in article 18 that “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. …


ahmadiyah3  No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”


Well, that’s pretty clear, so if Jakarta signed up to the convention, they should either accord with its rules or pull out.

  • marty Marty
  • Marty, the Foreign Minister, likes to present himself as a suave, modern-minded moderate, so how does he justify this Bakor Pakem monstrosity to people who monitor implementation of that Covenant? 


jubir-sby-julian-pasha-566-ok Julian


Maybe Marty just dismisses them as ‘naive,’ as happened last month, when the President’s own spokesman, Julian Adrian Pasha,  dissed overseas critics who show concern over persecution of religous minorites in Indonesia? https://rossrightangle.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/concern-at-persecution-naive-indonesian-presidents-right-hand-man/


“The Indonesian government has permitted Bakor Pakem to actively pursue the prosecution of religious figures for blasphemy,” said an HRW official. “The government should end the practice of a body espousing discriminatory religious beliefs having a say in the criminal justice system.”