Aceh police enforce strict code on punk rock fans

January 2012

Live events

Police in Indonesia’s Aceh province are enforcing a strict Islamic code and authorities recently rounded up 65 male and female punk-rock fans after a concert for “re-education.” That meant having their mohawks and dreadlocks shaved, their clothes destroyed and their piercings removed “before they were paraded around like crime suspects” and then forced to sit in a muddy pool for what police called “spiritual cleansing.”  The fans were then detained for ten days. The fans have now alleged harassment but the authorities say they’ve done nothing wrong: “We’re not torturing anyone. We’re not violating human rights,” the provincial police chief said “We’re just trying to put them back on the right moral path.” In 2005, after years of armed rebellion, residents of secular Aceh province on the island of Sumatra were granted permission to impose strict sharia, or Islamic law, to better promote moral values in the now-semiautonomous province. Religious police can now enforce the codes where adultery is punishable by stoning and homosexuals have been jailed or lashed in public with canes. Human Rights groups have also complained that women are told they must wear head scarves and cannot dress in tight pants.  “Why? Why my hair?!” called out one 20-year-old fan said “We didn’t hurt anyone. This is how we’ve chosen to express ourselves. Why are they treating us like criminals?”


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