The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) condemns the government of the United States plan to deport around 2,000 Chinese Indonesian Christians from New Hampshire after they fled to the US in 1998 to escape ethnic and religious persecution in Indonesia.
The US Constitution and international laws protect every person’s right to be treated equally under the law, allows for freedom of movement and protection from deportation or extradition if there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to persecution.
The Indonesian government has not been directly responsible for physical violence towards Chinese Indonesian Christians since 1998, however persons from these ethnic and religious groups continue to be targeted in Indonesia due to identity politics, especially following the highly contested blasphemy charge of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as Ahok), the Chinese Indonesian Christian Governor of DKI Jakarta from 2015 to 2017.
Moreover, various speeches and campaigns conducted by Indonesian political figures are repetitively re-igniting negative sentiment towards Chinese Indonesian Christians. Indonesia has also seen repeated violations toward Christian groups, including church closures and worship bans enforced by fundamentalist groups.
Taking into account this current political climate in Indonesia, Chinese Indonesian Christian groups abroad have objective and reasonable grounds to gain international protection.
Section One of the 14th Amendment of US Constitution states “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This section of the US constitution has been repeatedly upheld via many US Supreme Court decisions: Plyer v. Doe (1982), Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886), and United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), not to mention rights granted by another section of US constitution, including 5th and 6th Amendment, in Wong Win v. United States (1896) and Zadvydas v. Davis (2001)—all guarantee
The United States is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which regulates that states cannot expel, return, or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, physically or mentally.
Moreover, even though the Chinese Indonesian Christian group in New Hampshire has not formally registered as asylum seekers or refugees, they might substantively fit the criteria of refugee according to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, thus should be granted the right to gain international protection.
Contact – Alldo Fellix Januardy (+6287878499399)
Head of International Advocacy Division, The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute