In her university, instead of obtaining a defend due to her creative-methods of teaching, Ms. Rosnida Sari was even threatened with a sanction of suspension.
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – a human rights non-governmental organization based in Jakarta – writing to you to deliver our condemnation toward the case of an Acehnese lecturer who is accused of committing “Christianization” which is considered to be blasphemy.
Her name is Rosnida Sari, a lecturer at the school of dakwah (mission work) at the Ar Raniry Islamic State University in Banda Aceh, graduating from Flinders University in Adelaide. She teaches a class on gender study. She gave her effort to teach the values of tolerance and pluralism with brought her students to listen to a lecture about how Christianity struggles with sexism inside a church in Banda Aceh. She happened to know the pastor.
“In addition to know about the relationship between men and women in their religion (Christian), I also wish that there will be no student feeling discomfort just because they are different from one to another. The goal is of course to create mutual understanding between them, eliminating prejudices that have been formed by the media (newspapers and TV) or when they heard the conversation about those who are ‘different’ from them”. That is a passage in the writings of Ms. Rosnida Sari’s article described how she created a creative teaching method which also could be the medium in building inter-religious solidarity in Indonesia. This work was published in the website of Australian Plus1 – a consortium of news service focused on news on Australia’s relations with other countries, including Indonesia.
In the next 24 hours, her writings became viral, creating controversy inside her campus and Aceh. She received hundreds of threatening messages including killing. She turned off her Facebook that Monday. In her university, instead of obtaining a defend due to her creative-methods of teaching, Ms. Rosnida Sari was even threatened with a sanction of suspension. On Tuesday, she was summoned by the dean of her school. Abdul Rani Usman, a specialist on ethnic Chinese and speaks Mandarin fluently, issued a written statement, apologizing to the Acehnese and imposing an academic sanction against Ms. Rosnida Sari. They will also evaluate their standards in sending lecturers overseas. They will also review their policy on lecturers bringing students to non-Islamic houses of worships. We are guessing that Rani Usman is trying to cool things down.
The repetition of intolerance practices even on freedom of education and academic became very worrying because it could hamper the efforts to build peace and foster the values of tolerance. Indonesian Government should be concretely exist whenever the violence and discrimination based on intolerance happens.
Therefore, by sending this letter, we would like to request you all to demand and urge Indonesian Government to uphold Human Rights principal and abide International Obligations that Indonesia has been accessed or ratified like International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
- Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
- Everyone 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.
- No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
- Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Also bearing in mind Indonesia is the respective member of Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN) who is obliged under Article 22 of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD): Every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. All forms of intolerance, discrimination and incitement of hatred based on religion and beliefs shall be eliminated.
Jakarta, January 9th 2014
Executive Coordinator of KontraS
1. Her full writings is available here: http://www.australiaplus.com/indonesian/2015-01-05/belajar-di-australia-dosen-iain-ajak-mahasiswa-ke-gereja-di-banda-aceh/1401611