A call for protection comes after the destruction of a site belonging to followers of the Lorma tradition
Wale Paliusan, a ritual site belonging to followers of a traditional belief called Lalang Rondor Malesung (Laroma) in South Minahasa district of North Sulawesi province, was destroyed on June 21-22. (Photo provided)
The Communion of Churches of Indonesia (CCI) and human rights activists have urged the government to protect followers of a traditional belief in North Sulawesi province after their ritual site was destroyed by unidentified people on last month.
The site called Wale Paliusan belonging to Lalang Rondor Malesung (Laroma) supporters in Tondei Dua, a village in South Minahasa district was partially destroyed on June 21 and completely destroyed the next day.
Those behind the destruction are said to have been provoked by local Christian leaders who said the traditional belief was deviant because its followers worshiped idols.
Earlier this month, local authorities reportedly banned Laroma worshipers from holding a monthly ritual called Maso’ Sico’o (the Full Moon Ritual).
“We want the local government and police to provide Laroma supporters with legal and social protection from possible intimidation and threats of violence,” Reverend Jeirry Sumampow, spokesperson for the ICC, said in a July 22 statement.
ICC, Indonesia’s largest and most influential church organization, suggested that local Christians support Laroma worshipers in seeking justice and the right to religious freedom.
“We are still labeled as deviant and considered an illegal community by locals”
“We call on local society not to intimidate and commit acts of violence against Laroma supporters. The difference in thoughts and opinions as well as in the understanding of faith should not be subjected to violent responses,” the priest added.
The Protestant pastor said that Laroma worshipers are an integral part of Indonesia and have the right to worship freely, safely and independently without any intimidation.
Iswan Sual, leader of the Laroma supporters, said his community continues to face intimidation from locals since the attacks.
“It is not known when we will again be allowed to hold rituals. We are still labeled as deviant and seen as an illegal community by locals who say there are only six religions,” he told UCA News.
Indonesia has six recognized religions – Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism – and around 200 traditional beliefs.
Sual said his community reported the crimes to local police. “I heard that the investigation is still ongoing. There are no suspects yet,” he said.
“The State must protect, respect and realize the right to worship of each citizen”
He hopes local authorities will allow his community to pray freely and explain what Laroma is to local people to create better understanding.
“It has to be done by them. The local people will not listen to us,” Sual said.
Beka Ulung Hapsara of the National Human Rights Commission said local police were instructed to protect Laroma supporters.
“The State must protect, respect and realize the right to worship of every citizen. There must be no bans at all,” he told UCA News. “We cannot use the standards of one faith to prohibit or limit the rituals or religious activities of other faiths.”
Meanwhile, Syera Anggreini Buntara, religious freedom researcher at the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, urged local police to immediately arrest the perpetrators of the attacks and bring them to justice.