Aceh: Caning of Two Women for Selling Rice during Ramadan

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! (SKSW) and the International Solidarity Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) are outraged by the caning of two women in Aceh for selling cooked rice during Ramadan.

Please find sample letter attached at the bottom of this page.

The sentence was carried out on October 1st, 2010 to Murni binti Amris (27) and Rukiah binti Abdullah (22). The caning took place outside the Munawwarah Mosque in Jantho, Aceh Besar after the Friday prayers and was witnessed by the public.

Selling food during Ramadan is a clear breach of the provisions of Qanun No. 11 of 2002, which is the same law being invoked for punishment of women who do not wear the headscarf in public. The maximum punishment for the act of selling food is six lashes of the cane. The Shari’a court may also impose financial penalties and imprisonment.

Shari’a law in Aceh

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that has the legal right to apply their interpretation of Shari’a law which has, in turn, been steadily expanding over the last eight years. The Shari’a Court (Mahkamah Syar’iyyah) was established in 2001 as part of the Special Autonomy status granted to the province. Article 25 (2) of this Special Autonomy Law (Law 18/2001) mentioned that the Mahkamah Syar’iyah’s jurisdiction is subordinated to the secular national legal system.

In 2003, the province opened its first Shari’a Court, which introduced and enforced laws based on Islamic interpretations. These laws cover almost all elements of life in the province, including obligating women to wear appropriate Muslim clothes as a sign of modesty. Under these laws, any Muslim found eating, drinking or selling food during sunlight hours in the fasting month of Ramadan, as with the more serious charge of adultery, could be sentenced to a public caning or fines. The enforcement of the recent law on adultery which is punishable by stoning (Qanun Jinayat) was only suspended because of the refusal by the Provincial governor to sanction it after a wide-range of public protests from Aceh, other parts of Indonesia and abroad.  According to reports by Acehnese human rights and women’s organizations, the women and the poor are the primary targets of enforcement of laws derived from Shari’a, particularly by private individuals or groups sanctioned by religious courts but are not accountable to the Acehnese and national civilian authorities.

This recent case of caning is the latest of the growing cases which prove that the Aceh’s Qanun laws are becoming very repressive. The women who were caned were selling food because they need to earn money for their livelihood and to support their families. To punish them is contrary to the Islamic basic tenets of justice and compassion

We are calling the attention of the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the Ministry of Justice, the Provincial Governor of Aceh and the Parliament of Aceh (Dewan Perwakial Rakyat Aceh), to underscore that the Acehnese and national governments cannot afford to be silent on how laws based on Shari’a are increasingly being misused to justify public display of cruel punishments that conflict with the Constitution and are clearly violations of basic human rights. 

We are reminding the authorities that the Special Autonomy Law on Aceh allows the regional legislature to enact laws based on Shari’a, it does not give it and the Shari’a courts unrestrained discretion.  Article 25 of this law defines the jurisdiction of the religious courts in Aceh as based on Muslim laws as they are found within the system of Indonesia’s national laws.

The Qanun 11/2002 also defines the role of the Governor in ensuring that the laws and practice of the religious community are guarded from the influence of misguided interpretation.  It also provides that the national police have a function related to supporting the Wilayatul Hisbah (morality police) in implementing religious laws – making this consistent with the ordinary criminal law. 

The Indonesian Constitution in its Chapter 10 guarantees all citizens and residents the right to be free from both torture and discrimination, and affirms that these rights cannot be revoked under any circumstances.   Criminal punishments such as caning and flogging constitute a breach of the Convention Against Torture, which Indonesia ratified in 1998, as well as articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Indonesia in 2006.

We urge the Indonesian and Acehnese authorities to investigate the legal process that led to this public display of cruel form of punishment: who made the judgment?  How was the judgment made? What role did the Governor play?  Did the authorities monitor the procedures and ensure they were consistent with the Qanuns and Indonesian laws on proper and fair procedures, including the right of the accused to be heard and be represented in court, and the right to appeal to the ultimate authority residing in the office of the Governor?

We also urge the Indonesian and Acehnese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the Qanuns in Aceh and ensure that these laws support and do not conflict with the Constitution, or Indonesia’s commitments and obligations under international law; are informed by a expert knowledge on Islamic jurisprudence and are guided by Quranic teachings on fairness and justice and most of all, are not being abused through misinterpretations to serve the interests of a few. 

What you can do 

Please write to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the Ministry of Justice, the Provincial Governor of Aceh and  the Parliament of Aceh (Dewan Perwakial Rakyat Aceh), whose addresses are provided below. Please review the enclosed letters to the President of the Republic of Indonesia and the Aceh Provincial governor as samples.

Address your letters to:

The President

Republic of Indonesia                             
H.E. Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
State Secretariate
Jalan Veteran No. 17-19, Jakarta
Indonesia, Fax: +62-21-3502285

The Governor of Aceh 

The Governor of Aceh 
Jl.T. Nyak Arief Banda Aceh
Fax; +62-651-51091, 53676

Copy your letters to

Patrialis Akbar, SH
Minister Of Justice And Human Right
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said
Kav. 6-7 Kuningan
Jakarta 12940
Phone:  +62-21-5253004
Fax:  +62-21-5263082

The Head Of Aceh Parliament
Mr. Hasbi Abdullah 
Jl. Daud Beurueh  no.
Banda Aceh-Aceh
Fax.: (0651) 21638. Email: mediacenter@dpra.



Attachment Size
Aceh Canning Sample Letter 39.5 KB