Indonesia - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief







Separation of Religion or Belief & State




First Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (7-18 April, 2008)


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The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process launched by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 to review the human rights obligations and responsibilities of all UN Member States by 2011. Click for an Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review, Process and News:




The Indonesia Universal Periodic Review was held by the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday 9 April 2008 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  This link will access the reports in the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review: National Report; Compilation of UN Information; Summary of Stakeholders Information; Questions Submitted in Advance; Report of the Working Group; Related Web cast Archives.


Link to: Indonesia Adopted Universal Periodic Review.


The primary human rights instruments for this review are:


Article 18 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.


General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:


The 1981 UN Declaration:




The Tandem Project Follow-up builds on the 1986 Community Strategies, 27 action proposals at a local level to implement Article 18 of the ICCPR and the 1981 UN Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief: 


(1) Develop model local-national-international integrated approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief, appropriate to the constitutions, legal systems and cultures of each country, (2) Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as a platform for inclusive and genuine dialogue, (3) Apply these standards on freedom of religion or belief in education curricula, “teaching children, from the very beginning, that their own religion is one out of many and it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all.”  


Example: Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief


The challenge to the UN Human Rights Council is to achieve consensus among world views relating to international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of opinion and expression. While recognizing the religious and cultural sensitivity of these issues, it is time after 40 years for the UN Human Rights Council to establish an Open-ended Working Group for a UN Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief, deferred since 1968 by its predecessor the UN Human Rights Commission, and to strengthen the Special Procedures mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (Attachment).    




Pancasila the official government philosophy recognizes six religions in the Indonesian State: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confuscianism. The Constitution accords “all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief” but states that “the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God.” Pancasila as an ideology does not comply with international human rights standards on equal protection for all theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief- General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Pancasila has five related and interdependent principles:


The Government of Indonesia should consider ways to implement Article 4.2 of the 1981 UN Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief; All States shall make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination, and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter. The Indonesia Universal Periodic Review is a unique opportunity to begin to build a legal and cultural consensus with international law and human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief.


The Tandem Project Follow-up recommends non-governmental organizations and civil society in Indonesia sponsor projects to develop national and local approaches to freedom of religion or belief, based on integration, dialogue and education. Such programs would recognize Pancasila as the official philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state while developing model demonstration programs to reconcile international human rights law and standards on freedom of religion or belief with Pancasila, as a follow-up to the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review.





Links: Web sites in the public domain may be distributed unless copyright is indicated.


The Tandem Project Follow-up is seeking an exchange of information for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review on approaches to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of opinion and expression, to bridge human rights proclaimed in treaties at the international level with the reality of implementation at a national and local level.


These are just a few among many religious and non-governmental organizations with expertise in Indonesia that may be asked for advice about the practicality, within the Indonesian context, of an exchange of information on issues of concern relating to international human rights and freedom of religion or belief. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Survey on Freedom of Religion or Belief is an example of what The Tandem Project looks for in partnership exchanges (Attachment).


Indonesian National Human Rights Commission: Letter Submitted for Indonesia UPR.


Stakeholder Letters: Submitted for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review.


Muhammadiyah (Persyarikatan Muhammadiyah): Web site.


Muhammadiyah literally means “followers of Muhammad.” The organization was founded in the city of Yogyakarta as a reformist socio-religious movement, advocating ijihad-individual interpretation of Qur’an and Sunnah, as opposed to taqlid-the acceptance of the traditional interpretations propounded by the ulama. Muhammadiyah is the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia with 30 million members. Muhammadiyah leaders and members are often shape the politics of Indonesia, Muhammadiyah is not a political party. It has devoted itself to social and educational activities:


Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation:


The Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) was established by the initiative of the Indonesian Advocates Association (Peradin) Third Congress in 1969. Today LBH which is now named (YLBHI) has 14 branches and 7 posts spread across Indonesia, from Banda Aceh to Papua. As a civil society organization, YLBHI believes that governance must be based on the protection of people’s fundamental freedoms as well as their economic, social and cultural rights. In August 2009 the Oslo Coalition sponsored and participated in the training of trainers for young lawyers attached to YLBH for case related to abuses of freedom of religion. YLBHI have identified a need for further education and information on this topic. The Tandem Project Follow-up for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review will ask YLBHI for contacts at a local level to exchange information.


UIN University Yogyakarta:


Legacy International is a non-profit educational and training organization based in the United States. Since 1979 there primary mission has been to help individuals and groups to develop and refine skills and to deal effectively with the needs of their societies. Legacy International – Indonesia with UIN University Yogyakarta and the U.S. State Department sponsored a two year, two-way exchange between scholars, clerics, and community leaders in Indonesia and the United States (from the Web site). The Tandem Project Follow-up for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review will ask the advice of organizations and leaders listed on the Web site for suggestions on an exchange of information.


Oslo Coalition Indonesia Project;


The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief Indonesia Project started in 2002 with a Norwegian delegation visit to Indonesia. The Indonesia Project aims at establishing relationships both between faith communities and between academia in Norway and Indonesia, with a view to cooperation in the fields of inter-religious dialogue, human rights protection, and conflict resolution. The project emphasizes the role of religious education, dialogue and cooperation in fostering tolerance and interfaith perspectives in academic training with particular attention to women and youth.


In 2007-2008 the Oslo Coalition Indonesia Project supported a “Bridge Building Dialogue” process, a workshop on “Teaching for Tolerance” with the State University of Islamic Studies UIN Makassar, UIN Yogyakarta University training course in freedom of religion or belief, UIN Sunan Kalijaga/UIN Alauddin Makassar development of pilot project workshop materials for teachers of religion, CEPDES essay competition on human rights and Sharia in Koran Schools, PSIF (Center for Islamic and Philosophical Studies) preparation for field work research on the Hindu-Balinese minority on Lombok, Interfiei research project on Indonesian Religious education at primary and secondary level, and in June 2004, an international Workshop on Equality and Plurality in cooperation with UIN Yogyakarta. The Tandem Project Follow-up proposals for integration, dialogue and education will ask the Oslo Coalition for suggestion on local partnerships in these localities and issue areas.


Center for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies: Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

Freedom and Responsibility: When Muslims & Christians Explore Their Theology.


The Center for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies (CRCS) was established in 2000 in the Graduate School, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. The primary vision of CRCS is to promote the development of a democratic, multicultural and just society in Indonesia by establishing a center of excellence on religious studies with an international reputation. This Indonesian Center may be able to provide the names of organizations within Indonesian civil society that can be of help in exchanging information on the reconciliation of Pancasila national ideology with international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief.


Nahdlatul Ulama (NU):


Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is a conservative Sunni Islam group in Indonesia. Its traditionalist nature is evident in the name Ulama, referring to the scholar-preachers of Islam, trained in Quranic studies, including the interpretation of religious laws contained therein. NU is one of the largest independent Islamic organizations in the world. Some estimations of their membership range as high as 40 million. NU acts as a large charitable body. It funds schools, hospitals, and organizes communities or “kampungs” to combat poverty.


International Crisis Group Indonesia:


The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization, with some 130 staff members on five continents working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. The International Crisis Group is now generally recognized as the world’s leading independent non-partisan source of analysis and advice to governments, and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank. Aceh Province Parliament has passed a law making adultery punishable by stoning to death based on Sharia law, which obviously is not in compliance with international standards on human rights and freedom of religion or belief. Aceh rebels gave up their arms and separatist rebellion in 2005 under a power sharing agreement with the Indonesian government after 30 years of war. The Tandem Project Follow-up will ask the International Crisis Group and Martti Ahtirsaari, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who helped broker the peace agreement, for advice on approaches to freedom of religion or belief in Aceh Province. 


World Council of Churches: Letter submitted for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review:


The World Council of Churches (WCC) program on Inter-religious dialogue and cooperation promotes respectful coexistence and peaceful integration in a pluralistic society, enabling bilateral and multilateral dialogues, regional and cross-cultural encounters on topics like the perceptions of “the other”; religion and violence; etc.  The WCC Letter for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review has recommendations helpful as a focus of their interests for an exchange of information with The Tandem Project Follow-up to the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review.


Communion of Churches in Indonesia:


The Communion of Churches in Indonesia was founded in 1950 with objective of an umbrella organization called the United Christian Church of Indonesia organized in 26 regional communions identified in the Web site. Among the 26 regions are Jakarta, Java, West Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Lampung, Aceh and Sumatra. Churches within the membership of the World Council of Churches are listed here and may be able to provide information for The Tandem Project Follow-up proposals within the context of Indonesian law and culture. 


Lutheran World Federation;


The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition with international headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF now has 140 member churches in 79 countries all over the world representing 68.5 million Christians. Their mission includes humanitarian assistance, mission and development, theology, international affairs & human rights and ecumenical relations. Lutheran churches see the protection of human rights as a basic Christian concern and LWF monitors human rights abuses around the world and, in consultation with its member churches, makes representations in relation to crucial issues. The Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church joined LWF in 1994. It has 23,000 members according to the LWF Web site. The LWF international headquarters in Geneva will be asked for advice on whether The Tandem Project Follow-up proposals in Indonesia will ask LWF for advice on an integrated international-national-local approach to human rights and freedom of religion or belief.


CCE Indonesia:


CCE-Indonesia is a non-profit organization which has been creating innovative civic education programs for nine years in Indonesia. The CCEI projects in Indonesia are funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the United States Department of State. Muhammadiyah has conducted teacher training in cooperation with the Center for Civic Education (CEE) Indonesia. The Tandem Project Follow-up for the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review and the USA Universal Periodic Review in December 2010 will ask for an exchange of information in both countries: Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief


Franciscans International Letter; Indonesia Universal Periodic Review:


Franciscans International is a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations. It is an international ministry founded in 1989 of the entire Franciscan movement, men and women, lay and cleric, Protestant and Catholic. Operating under the sponsorship of the Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) which has the see in Rome, it serves all Franciscans and the community by bringing the spiritual and ethical values of Franciscan life to the issues facing the world community. It strives to bring the concerns and the voice of the poor, oppressed and powerless people of the world to the world table when the governments of the world deliberate. Formation at FI means educating Franciscans in human rights advocacy and poverty eradication, offering practical experiences at the policy-making level in Geneva and New York, and providing them with the resources to translate this knowledge into better service for their home communities around the world.




1. Indonesia - Religious Demography

An archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, the country has an area of 700,000 million square miles and a population of 245 million.

According to the 2000 census report, 88.2 percent of the population described themselves as Muslim, 5.9 percent Protestant, 3.1 percent Roman Catholic, 1.8 percent Hindu, 0.8 percent Buddhist, and 0.2 percent "other," including traditional indigenous religions, other Christian groups, and Jewish. Some Christians, Hindus, and members of other minority religious groups argued that the census undercounted non-Muslims. The Government does not recognize atheism.

Many smaller Muslim organizations exist, including approximately 400,000 persons who subscribe to the Ahmadiyya Qadiyani interpretation of Islam. A smaller group, known as Ahmadiyya Lahore, is also present. Other Islamic minorities include al-Qiyadah al-Islamiya, Darul Arqam, Jamaah Salamulla (Salamulla Congregation), and members of the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Institute.


The Ministry of Religious Affairs estimates that 19 million Protestants (referred to locally as Christians) and 8 million Catholics live in the country. The province of East Nusa Tenggara has the highest proportion of Catholics at 55 percent. The province of Papua contains the highest proportion of Protestants at 58 percent. Other areas, such as the Maluku Islands and North Sulawesi, host sizable Christian communities.


The Ministry of Religious Affairs estimates that 10 million Hindus live in the country. Hindus account for approximately 90 percent of the population in Bali. Hindu minorities (called "Keharingan") reside in Central and East Kalimantan, the city of Medan (North Sumatra), South and Central Sulawesi, and Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara). Hindu groups such as Hare Krishna and followers of the Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba are also present, although in smaller numbers. Some indigenous religious groups, including the "Naurus" on Seram Island in Maluku Province, incorporate Hindu and animist beliefs into their practices. Many have also adopted some Protestant principles. The Tamil community in Medan represents another concentration of Hindus.


The country has a small Sikh population, estimated between 10,000 and 15,000. Sikhs reside primarily in Medan and Jakarta. Eight Sikh temples (gurdwaras) are located in North Sumatra, while Jakarta has two Sikh temples with active congregations.


Among Buddhists, approximately 60 percent follow the Mahayana school, Theravada followers account for 30 percent, and the remaining 10 percent belong to the Tantrayana, Tridharma, Kasogatan, Nichiren, or Maitreya schools. According to the Young Generation of Indonesian Buddhists, most believers live in Java, Bali, Lampung, West Kalimantan, and the Riau islands. Ethnic Chinese make up an estimated 60 percent of Buddhists.


The number of Confucians remains unknown because at the time of the 2000 national census, respondents were not allowed to identify themselves as such. The Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia (MATAKIN) estimated that ethnic Chinese made up 95 percent of Confucians with the balance mostly indigenous Javanese. Many Confucians also practiced Buddhism and Christianity.


An estimated 20 million persons in Java, Kalimantan, Papua, and elsewhere practice animism and other types of traditional belief systems termed "Aliran Kepercayaan." Some animists combine their beliefs with one of the government-recognized religions.


There are very small Jewish communities in Jakarta and Surabaya. The Baha'i community reported thousands of members, but no reliable figures were available. Falun Dafa, which considers itself a spiritual organization rather than a religion, claims between 2,000 and 3,000 followers, nearly half of whom live in Yogyakarta, Bali, and Medan.

2. Indonesia - Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for the freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Constitution accords "all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief " and states that "the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God." The first tenet of the country's national ideology, Pancasila, declares belief in one God. However, some restrictions exist on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. Government employees must swear allegiance to the nation and to the Pancasila ideology. The Government sometimes tolerated extremist groups that used violence and intimidation against religious groups, and often failed to punish perpetrators. The Government did not use its authority to review or revoke local laws that violated freedom of religion.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs extends official status to six faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and, as of January 2006, Confucianism. Atheism is not recognized. Religious organizations other than the six recognized religions can register with the Ministry for Culture and Tourism only as social organizations, restricting certain religious activities. Unregistered religious groups do not have the right to establish a house of worship and have administrative difficulties obtaining identity cards and registering marriages and births.

3. Indonesia - Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. However, certain policies, laws, and official actions restricted religious freedom, and the Government sometimes tolerated discrimination against and abuse of individuals based on their religious belief by private actors. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.

The Government requires all adult citizens to carry a National Identity Card (KTP) which, among other things, identifies the holder's religion. Members of religions not recognized by the Government are generally unable to obtain KTPs unless they incorrectly identify themselves as belonging to a recognized religion. During the reporting period, human rights groups continued to receive sporadic reports of local Civil Registry officials who rejected applications submitted by members of unrecognized or minority religions. Others accepted applications, but issued KTPs that inaccurately reflected the applicants' religion. Some animists received KTPs that listed their religion as Islam. Many Sikhs registered as Hindu on their KTPs and marriage certificates because the Government did not officially recognize their religion. Some citizens without a KTP had difficulty finding work. Several nongovernmental organizations and religious advocacy groups continued to urge the Government to delete the religion category from KTPs.

The civil registration system restricts the religious freedom of persons who do not belong to the six recognized faiths; animists, Baha'is, and members of other small minority faiths found it difficult to register marriages or births, notwithstanding the June 2007 regulation pertaining to marriage and civil administration. In practice, couples prevented from registering their marriage or the birth of a child in accordance with their faiths converted to one of the recognized faiths or misrepresented themselves as belonging to one of the six. Those who chose not to register their marriages or births risked future difficulties: a child without a birth certificate cannot enroll in school and may not qualify for scholarships. Individuals without birth certificates do not qualify for government jobs.

4. Indonesia - Societal Abuses/Discrimination

During the reporting period, there were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice.

The Government tolerated discrimination and abuse toward the Ahmadiyya by remaining silent on the 2007 MUI fatwa containing guidelines condemning Islamic groups such as the Ahmadiyya who profess belief in a prophet after Muhammad, the 2005 MUI fatwa that explicitly banned the Ahmadiyya, and local government bans. Varying reports provided different numbers of mosques attacked or closed. However, according to national Ahmadiyya spokespersons, during the reporting period, 21 Ahmadiyya mosques were forced to close around the country; 15 were closed in West Java alone. The June 2008 joint ministerial decree on the Ahmadiyya responded to calls to address the group's rights. For the most part, Ahmadiyya followers have been allowed to continue worshiping, although some mosques were closed after the decree. However, because of the decree, Ahmadiyya followers are not free to proselytize or otherwise practice their faith publicly.

Local sources reported 2 Ahmadiyya camps in Lombok housed 194 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been living in the camps since attacks by local Muslims destroyed their homes and mosques in early 2006. There were approximately 137 Ahmadiyya IDPs living in Transito Camp and 57 in Praya Camp at the end of the reporting period. One family from the Praya Camp returned home briefly, only to return to the camp shortly thereafter due to threats of violence. Four of the families displaced in 2006 relocated with family members in South Sulawesi. Sources within the Ministry of Religion reported 150 IDPs living in the camps, of which 80 had been repatriated back to their homes.

Source: US State Department 2008 International Religious Freedom Report; Indonesia

Links to State Department sites are welcomed. Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the State Department’s main website is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. Citation of the U.S. State Department as source of the information is appreciated.


Documents Attached:


Indonesia - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief

Mandate on Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief Adopted Without Consensus

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Survey on Freedom of Religion or Belief



United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at the Alliance of Civilizations Madrid Forum said; “never in our lifetime has there been a more desperate need for constructive and committed dialogue, among individuals, among communities, among cultures, among and between nations.”


Genuine dialogue on human rights and freedom of religion or belief calls for respectful discourse, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive dialogue includes people of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The warning signs are clear, unless there is genuine dialogue ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism; conflicts in the future will probably be even more deadly.


In 1968 the UN deferred work on an International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance because of its complexity and sensitivity. Violence, suffering and discrimination based on religion or belief in many parts of the world is greater than ever. It is time for a UN Working Group to draft what they deferred in 1968, a comprehensive core international human rights treaty-a United Nations Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief. United Nations History – Freedom of Religion or Belief


The challenge to religions or beliefs at all levels is awareness, understanding and acceptance of international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief. Leaders, teachers and followers of all religions or beliefs, with governments, are keys to test the viability of inclusive and genuine dialogue in response to the UN Secretary General’s urgent call for constructive and committed dialogue.  


The Tandem Project title, Separation of Religion or Belief and State (SOROBAS), reflects the far-reaching scope of UN General Comment 22 on Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4). The General Comment on Article 18 is a guide to international human rights law for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts:


Surely one of the best hopes for humankind is to embrace a culture in which religions and other beliefs accept one another, in which wars and violence are not tolerated in the name of an exclusive right to truth, in which children are raised to solve conflicts with mediation, compassion and understanding.


The Tandem Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.


The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the

Economic and Social Council of the United Nations