During 9-15 August 2009, ICLRS had the opportunity of joining with two Indonesian organizations, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and the TIFA Foundation, and the Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion or Belief in providing a Training Course for Lawyers on Freedom of Religion or Belief that was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. ICLRS Director Cole Durham served as one of the trainers along with ICLRS Academic Advisory Board Member Tore Lindholm, Project Group Chair for the Oslo Coalition. Professors Durham and Lindholm joined Indonesian experts Adam Pantouw, Renata Arianingtyas, Zainal Abidin, and Asfinawati in helping with the development of Indonesia-focused training materials and leading the actual training sessions. The Training Course attracted a remarkable group of 28 young Indonesian lawyers from 14 provinces who have already had significant experience defending religious communities that have suffered discrimination and persecution.
Over the last five years, Indonesia has experienced an increasing number of religious freedom and religious intolerance cases across the country. The Wahid Institute (www.wahidinstitute.org) reported that the number reached more than five cases monthly, with seven cases brought to court. Through the Belief Monitoring Body (Bakorpakem) under the attorney general’s office and Law No. 1/PnPs/1965, the government of Indonesia recognizes six religions and has the authority to monitor any beliefs existant in society. The body can recommend that the government of Indonesia dissolve belief groups by providing instructional religious teachings to them and by legally dissolving an association. The most controversial case was Ahmadiyya, which was followed by attacks on Ahmadiyya communities across the country by the other Islamic radical groups. In view of this situation, it is important to train lawyers to represent and defend victims of religious intolerance cases in any stages as well as to educate victims as to their constitutional rights to protect their freedom of religion.