Public caning punishments in the North Sumatra province of Aceh, which practices Sharia law, has long been controversial courting international condemnation, now President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has weighed in asking officials to conduct private canings instead so as not to scare off investors.
Indonesia was thrust into the international spotlight after two young men were sentenced to 85 lashes each after being found engaging in sexual activity with each other in May this year. The punishment drew hundreds of spectators to a local mosque who hurled abuse as the pair were caned.
The case quickly went viral, prompting condemnation from LGBT and human rights activists around the world.
Now, Jokowi and local Acehnese leaders are concerned the practice could turn off potential investors. But rather than outlaw the punishment, which has seen 339 caned in the last year according to Human Rights Watch, authorities have called for the public showcasing to end.
Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf and Vice Governor Nova Iriansyah has said the province will ‘modify’ how it conducts canings.
“The governor plans to find a location for the punishment, so it does not have to be in front of a crowd,” Iriansyah said in Jakarta following a meeting with Jokowi on Tuesday, July 11, as reported by Okezone.
The decision has worried Human Rights Watch, with researcher Kyle Knight calling for the abolition of the practice.
“Irwandi, recently elected governor for a second time, seems to be trying to gloss over a barbaric violation of basic rights. The government should be abolishing this brutal punishment and the abusive laws that allow it, not whitewashing flogging to mollify squeamish investors,” Knight said in a statement released Thursday, July 13.
See: How Indonesia’s Hatred Towards LGBT Affects Communities
Image credits: Okezone