A GROUP of 37 Members of United States Congress has issued a letter to Indonesia’s ambassador in Washington raising serious concern over what it calls “growing radicalisation” and the persecution of women, ethnic and religious minorities, and the LGBTQI community.
In a firmly worded letter sent to Budi Bowoleksono last Friday, Representatives called upon Indonesia to “proactively attend” to this situation, citing floggings of gay men in Aceh, a raid of a gay spa in Jakarta, and the jailing of Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
Led by Democratic Party member Sean Patrick Maloney, the statement warned that attacks on minority groups could “negatively impact diplomatic relations and foreign investments in your country, if left unchecked.”
SEE ALSO: Why are LGBT Indonesians under siege?
— Stephen Peters II (@stephenpeters2) June 19, 2017
Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia, however LGBT communities have been increasingly targeted by public officials since early 2016.
Several high-profile raids have occurred in recent months, including a “gay party” in Surabaya and a men-only spa in Jakarta leading to the arrest of 141 people. West Java police subsequently announced they would create a “taskforce” to investigate LGBT activity.
In May, two young men were publicly caned in the conservative, semi-autonomous province of Aceh, which implements corporal punishment for adultery and homosexuality under Shariah law. This drew widespread international condemnation from rights groups.
Moreover, the letter states that the jailing of Jakarta’s former Christian, ethnically Chinese governor Ahok for blasphemy against Islam as further sending a “chilling message” about tolerance, pluralism and stability in Indonesia.
“While the United States respects the values and traditions of other nations,” continued the letter, “we cannot turn a blind eye to the persecution of minority communities, whether women, religious minorities or LGBTQ people.”
The congressmen and women’s letter also cites a study from the Williams Institute at the University of California that found anti-LGBT discrimination could be costing US$12 billion to Indonesia’s gross domestic product.
“We deeply value our nation’s ties with Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, a democratic leader in the Muslim world, and a close ally and trade partner,” said the statement.
“Please know that we will continue monitoring the situation, and hope that Indonesia will proactively attend to this human rights situation.”