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Indonesia: 'Dirty' Punks Forced into 'Moral Rehab' by Sharia Police

Publication Date: 
December 14, 2011

Indonesian sharia police are "morally rehabilitating" more than 60 young punk rock fans who were holding a charity concert in Aceh province in northern Sumatra.

Police arrested 59 male and five female punk rock fans at a concert organised to raise money for orphans in the provincial capital Banda Aceh on Saturday night, saying the youths were damaging the province's image.

"We feared that the Islamic sharia law implemented in this province will be tainted by their activities," Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal, who ordered the arrests, told AFP.

"We hope that by sending them to rehabilitation they will eventually repent," he added, claiming that the objective was to deter them from "deviant" behaviour.

"They never showered, they lived on the street, never performed religious prayers," said Aceh Police Chief Iskandar Hasan.

"We need to fix them so that they will behave properly and morally. They need harsh treatment to change their mental behaviour."

"We'll change their disgusting clothes. We'll replace them with nice clothes. We'll give them toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, sandals and prayer gear. It will all be given to them," he said. "I'll remind [police] not to violate human rights. We are oriented to educating our community, our nation. This is our country too, right?"

Police stormed the concert venue on Saturday and arrested the fans, but failed to charge them with a crime or explain why they were being detained.

The punk rockers were taken to a nearby town on Tuesday to undergo a 10-day "moral rehabilitation" programme run by the police.

Hasan said they would be subjected to certain rules when they reached the school.

"There will be a traditional ceremony. First, their hair will be cut. Then they will be tossed into a pool. The women's hair we'll cut in the fashion of a female police officer," he said. "Then we'll teach them a lesson."

Evi Narti Zain, a local rights activist, said the arrest constituted a breach of the music lovers' human rights.

"What the police have done is totally bizarre. Being a punk is just a lifestyle. They exist all over the world and they don't break any rules or harm other people."

Aceh Legal Aid Foundation's director, Hospinovizal Sabri, said he has been working to secure the young people's release.

Photograph: Reuters

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