The Indonesian Police arrested three Bahá'ís on criminal charges of teaching and converting Muslim children in Lampung Timur, Sumatra. The Police mentioned there is very compelling evidence of the crime and violation.
The Government of Indonesia requires that official religions comply with a number of Ministry of Religious Affairs and other ministerial directives in their registration and activities. Among these are the Regulation on Building Houses of Worship (Joint-Ministerial Decree No. 1/1969); the Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion (Ministerial Decision No. 70/1978); Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions in Indonesia (Ministerial Decision No. 20/1978); and Proselytizing Guidelines (No. 77/1978). Law of Child Protection 23-2002 which states that “whoever converts or attempts to convert children to other religion will be charged up to 5 years prison or fine of U$10,000 or both.
The Government requires that Religious groups and social organizations must obtain permits to hold religious concerts or other public events. Permits usually are granted in an unbiased manner, unless there is concern that the activity could anger members of another faith who live in the area.
The Bahá'ís were prosecuted under the Law of Child Protection 23-2002 trying to convert children of other faith as young as 9 to 10 years.
The charges proved against these Bahá'ís were:
- Attempting to convert the children of the Muslim religion to the Bahá'í faith under the pretext of “CHILDREN MORAL CLASSES”.
- Converting the Youths by wrongly attributing their conversion activities to “YOUTH SPIRITUALIZATION PROGRAMME”.
- Giving wrong information to the Government of Indonesia. The arrested Bahá'ís accepted that they are Bahá'ís but their passport carries the Muslim Identification/information.
- Disturbing the peace and Tranquility of the society, by trying to convert the person of other Faith although the law permits Religious speeches if they are delivered to co-religionists AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONVERT PERSONS OF OTHER FAITHS.
After reading the teacher’s manual, the court said that “It was quite evident that the materials were solely used for conversion purposes.”
The Children gave the witness in the court that the Bahá'í class teacher has been defaming prophet Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. The Bahá'í teacher was very sympathetic towards the like of Salman Rushdie
The parents too gave the witness that there consent was never taken. Those parents who gave the consent earlier said that, the consent was taken from us deceptively.
It should be noted that, in the year 2000, the ban on Bahá'í activities was lifted from the Bahá'í Faith after almost three decades, albeit with the condition that no conversion activities will be carried out. The government gave Bahá'ís the freedom to organize with the understanding that they will organize their meetings only within the Bahá'í community. Every type of propagation of Bahá'í Faith was forbidden including several methods such as door to door propagation and the use of public events and pamphlets.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs, over and over again informed the Bahá'ís not to teach people who already have their own religion and were informed about the implication of violating this established government rules (imprisonment). After this case it is very clear that the Bahá'ís have betrayed the trust of the Government of Indonesia.
Bahá'í Organisation, internationalized the issue and for defaming the Government complained to the Commission of Human Rights, which in turn wrote to the Ministry of Religious Affair. It is quite clear that the International Bahá'í Headquarter at Haifa, Israel are in hand to hand with Commission of Human Rights
It was quite evident that The Bahá'ís took this opportunity for Propagation of Bahá'í Faith and they were least bothered for defending the accused. The Bahá'ís are taken for a ride by their Organizations.