Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonom, President of the Republic of Indonesia, was awarded the World Statesman Award for his role in promoting religious tolerance and freedom of worship in Indonesia.

Human rights organizations are up in arms, criticizing SBY for his acceptance of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation award while citing several cases of religious intolerance, including the March 2013 deadline for Shia Muslims to convert to “Indonesia’s majority religion (Sunni Islam)” to return to their homes.

“And this is something that no leader can do along,” SBY claims. “This is something that requires the collective work of a large pool of leaders, of all persuasion, and in all field doing their statecraft to lead and inspire those who follow them.” He claimed that the Indonesian government “would not tolerate any act of senseless violence committed by any group in the name of religion.

However, many members of the Shia Muslim community are practicing their faith in secret to protect themselves and their loved ones from fear of identifying themselves to anti-Shia Muslim groups while the Indonesian government continues to do nothing to stop them.

It is important to note that the freedom of religion or belief is guaranteed in Article 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 18 of the International Bill of Human Rights to which Indonesia is a state party.

There is a petition happening now to withdraw the award from SBY and can be found at SRW urges all to sign the petition and stop this award that has been wrongly given.

By: Jocelyn Liberatore

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