Pluralism and human rights activists have said that political rather than religious issues could turn out to be the main motive behind Tuesday’s bomb scares in Jakarta.
In a discussion on Wednesday, they said there was little evidence pointing to the involvement of hard-line or terrorist groups.
On Tuesday, package bombs were sent to the co-founder of the Liberal Islamic Network (JIL), Ulil Abshar Abdalla; Gories Mere, a former key officer at the National Police’s counterterrorism unit, Densus 88; and the chairman of the Pemuda Pancasila (Pancasila Youth) organization, Yapto Suryosumarno.
Representatives from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Human Rights Working Group, the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the rights group Imparsial and The Wahid Institute, which promotes tolerance, attended the discussion.
“I doubt that the three terrorist attacks on Tuesday had a religious motivation,” said Usman Hamid, from Kontras.
“In the past couple of years, instead of an activist defending minority rights, Ulil has been known as a politician. Therefore, his position in politics can be one of the reasons,” he said.
Ulil is currently a member of the central leadership board of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party. He is known for promoting pluralism through JIL.
“If this was because of the Ahmadiyah issue only, why weren’t other moderate Islamic figures such as Yenny Wahid or other pluralism activists targeted?” Usman asked.
Ahmadiyah, the minority Islamic sect, has been targeted recently by hard-liners demanding it be disbanded because of its religious views.
Usman also pointed out that Gories and Yapto come from different backgrounds.
While the police have been targeted by terrorists in the past, Yapto is not particularly known for his public message of peace and pluralism. Pemuda Pancasila used to be a youth wing of the Golkar Party that was mobilized for campaigning and security.
“I doubt [the bombs] were from a hard-line Islamic group,” Usman said. “The hard-line Islamic groups have become so confident in their own method of attacking people by mobilizing the masses. And lately they have been supported by the government such as through the gubernatorial regulations banning Ahmadiyah activities.”
Dawam Raharjo, from JIL, said it was unclear whether those responsible for the bombs were trying to threaten pluralism activists or trying to send a message to the president.
The three package bombs sent on Tuesday were disguised as books. The first one, sent to Ulil in Utan Kayu, East Jakarta, aroused suspicion and was reported to the police.
However, police officers attempting to defuse the bomb accidentally detonated it, causing one officer to lose his hand.
The second package was addressed to Gories at his office at the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) in Cawang, also in East Jakarta.
The bomb was not opened and was safely defuse, the head of the Jakarta Police’s bomb squad, Sr. Comr. Wahyu Widodo, told the Jakarta Globe.
A third package bomb was sent to Yapto on Tuesday night and was later defused by the police bomb squad.