The authorities in Aceh – Indonesia’s only province that implements full Sharia (Islamic law) – clearly feel stung by the international outcry they generated when police publicly flogged two gay men in May. Their solution, it appears, is to put an end to public floggings.
Instead, they’re just going to flog people indoors, away from the cameras.
Aceh’s position within Indonesia is unique. A 30-year separatist armed conflict seeded deep distrust between Acehnese and the national government. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami led to a ceasefire that soon ended the war but wrought unprecedented devastation. A 2005 peace agreement made Aceh the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia – although such provisions, modeled on Aceh’s, are spreading nationwide. The province’s 2014 criminal code prohibits all same-sex relations and mandates public caning as punishment.
Under its Sharia bylaws, Aceh caned 339 people last year for offenses ranging from gambling to adultery. The May caning of two gay men, who received 83 lashes each, appears to be Indonesia’s first public caning for homosexuality and sparked considerable international outrage. Flogging as punishment is also recognized under international law as a form of torture, but that doesn’t seem to have deterred Acehnese authorities so far. So what prompted the decision to end floggings in public?
Media reports suggest that Acehnese leaders are now worried that videos of May’s flogging, which were widely circulated online, make the province unappealing for investors. Read more via Human Rights Watch