Protecting Minorities' Rights

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Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe religious and traditional authorities in Bali banned the activities of the Hare Krishna sect. The government must not remain silent.

    The banning of the Hare Krishna Hindu sect in Bali has harmed the principles of diversity and freedom of religion. The forced closure of an ashram and the removal of hoardings displayed by the sect are clar violation of their constitutional rights. The ban on Hare Krishna is contained in the Joint Decision on Restrictions to the Dissemination of Belief System not in Line with Balinese Religious Guidelines, which came into force on December 16, 2020. The two bodies issuing the joint decision are the Supreme Council of Balinese Hinduism and Balinese Customary Village Community.

    One section of the joint decision states that Hare Krishna followers are baned from practicing religious rituals at temples throughout Bali. The sect is also banned from using public facilities such as roads, beaches or fields for activities.

    Hare Krishna has been in Bali since the 1980s. The sect is seen as misguided because its teaching and rituals are different from those of Hinduism. Using the pretext that Hare Krishna triggered a number of conflicts, in 1984, the Attorney General's Office issued a decision banning the distributin of printed matter containing its teachings. After the 1998 reformasi that ended the authoritarian New Order regime, Hare Krishna resumed activities.

    The joint decision letter in Bali states that Hare Krishna is in the wrong because it has been disseminating its teachings among Balinese Hindu communities.

    The removal of people's rights to religion is against the law. The action against Hare Krishna is a gloomy illustration of what happens to minority teachings in Indonesia.
    The government should protect minority groups. Conflicts between majority and minority groups should not be used as an excuse to muzzle marginalized people. The government should allow religious people the freedom to interpret religious teachings. There is no single interpretation in religion. Majority groups must not forse their interpretations and beliefs on minorities. If there are differences of opinion that trigger conflict, the government must enforce the law.

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