Two men are publicly flogged in Indonesia under Sharia law after being caught gambling

  • Public floggings are common in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province
  • People often caned for offences including  pre-marital sex and drinking alcohol

Two men accused of gambling are the latest to receive a public whipping in the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh, where people are commonly flogged for a range of offences including drinking alcohol, sex before marriage and homosexuality.

In new images taken today, in Banda Aceh, the latest men to be flogged can be seen dressed in white robes as they are caned with a thin bamboo rod. 

Members of the public can be seen in the background looking on, many of them taking pictures and filming videos of the men’s public whipping. 

The unnamed man looks resolute as he stands ready to be caned. The man had been accused of gambling, an offense under sharia law in the Indonesian region of Aceh

One man, who looks to be in his early fifties, stands, hands clasped with his gaze fixed resolutely in front of him, as a member of the Sharia Police hits him firmly in the back. 

The other, who appears to be around the same age looks to the ground as the caner dressed in a hooded red garment his him several times. 

The only sign of pain the man gives is a soft grimace each time the cane hits his clothed back. 

This man, who is also identified, can be seen with a grimace on his face as a member of the Sharia police stands and whips him several times.

A member of the Sharia police can be seen standing ahead of the public caning in Banda Aceh on October 21, 2019

There are few other details surrounding the circumstances that led to the whipping of these two men. 

But such displays are relatively common in the conservative region of Sumatra island. 

Under Sharia law, people are often caned for a range of offences, including gambling, having a homosexual relationship, sale and consumption of alcohol, and sex outside of marriage – despite much international criticism.

The Islamic penal code, which stems from interpretations of the Koran, Islam’s religious text, is widely used in the Aceh region as its principal legal code – the only one in Indonesia to do so.   

The province of Banda Aceh began widespread implementation of Sharia law after being granted autonomy in 2001 – in an attempt by the government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

This gained strength in 2005 when to quell a three-decade-old separatist movement the region was granted the right to use sharia law as its legal code – on the condition it remained a part of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. 

Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty Indonesia, told Al Jazeera, while Sharia law formed the region’s criminal code how it was implemented could be considered a breach in humanitarian law.

‘In actuality, the many provisions of the law [are] a breach of international human rights law and standards.’ 

He said caning in public was in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment to which Indonesia is a state party.

He said the caning was more than just a light tap on the back – and could be quite severe.

Despite international condemnation public flogging is a common punishment for a range of offences in the conservative region

Earlier this year, there were concerns such public punishments would become more widespread, as Indonesia looked set to pass a new law that could have seen Sharia Law more widely implemented across the nation’s many regions. 

The law, if passed, would also have seen sex outside of marriage, abortion and insults on the president’s dignity outlawed. 

Those who engaged in extramarital sex faced punishment of up to one year in jail, under the proposed law changes.

The shift came amidst a recent trend towards deeper religious piety and conservative Islamic activism in the South-East Asian nation. 

However, after a public and global outcry, he Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a further review of the bill before it was passed into law.  

The man can be seen with head downcast as a member of the Sharia police whips his clothed back firmly

Sharia law in Banda Aceh: Public lashings in Indonesia

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, which implements Islamic law, or Sharia. 

The province of Banda Aceh began implementing Sharia law after being granted autonomy in 2001 – an attempt by the government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Islamic laws have been strengthened since Aceh struck a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005.

People are flogged for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, gay sex or any sexual relationship outside marriage.

A man is whipped in public by a member of the Sharia police after being charged with gambling in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on October 21, 2019

More than 90 per cent of the 255 million people who live in Indonesia describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.

The brutal and public beatings have become more prevalent in recent years with a number of reported incidents of those being punished collapsing in pain on stage.

Back in September 2014, Aceh approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes.

After a three-decade-old separatist movement, a peace agreement signed in 2005 granted special autonomy to Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, on condition that it remained part of the sprawling archipelago.

As part of that deal, Aceh won the right to be the only Indonesian province to use Islamic sharia law as its legal code.

An Acehnese woman was also lashed as part of the public caning on January 19, 2018 outside a mosque after prayers had finished 

Anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex is punished with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold.

The law also set out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, people caught found guilty of adultery and underage sex.

Religious police in Aceh have been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.

Over the past decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development.

Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia’s national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

The trend appeared to be slowing down after a string of worrying incidents at the turn of the new year, but the new pictures reveal the practice still looms large in Indonesia.

Men and women have collapsed in pain due to the severity of their injuries and people can be caned for something as innocent as standing too close to a partner in public or being seen alone with someone they are not married to.

An Islamic enforcer holds the rattan stick against the back of Jono Simbolon, an Indonesian Christian, who was whipped 36 times for selling alcohol in the province

In the past two years or so, MailOnline has reported on the rising trend of public lashings carried out in Aceh, Indonesia:

March 1, 2016: Woman whipped 50 times for spending time alone with a man at the age of 19.

March 24, 2016: Young woman carried from the stage on a stretcher after being lashed for sex outside marriage.

August 1, 2016: Another woman is lashed for going on a date in Aceh.

August 15, 2016: Elderly man caned for breaking Sharia law.

September 11, 2016: Man and a woman lashed for having an affair and among the gathered crowd is the mayor of Banda Aceh.

October 17, 2016: Muslim woman screams out in pain on stage after being lashed 23 times for standing too close to her boyfriend. 

October 31, 2016: A woman, 20, caned in public for getting too close to a man she wasn’t married to.

November 28, 2016: Man and a woman lashed 100 times each for adultery. 

February 2, 2017: Enforcer lands 26 beatings across the back of a woman for having sex outside of wedlock.

February 10, 2017: Woman collapses in pain on stage as she is being caned. 

February 27, 2017: Man collapses on stage as he is being whipped for having sex outside of marriage. 

August 25, 2017: Ten Indonesians sentenced to up to 100 lashes of the whip for adultery.

September 12, 2017: Woman hospitalised after 100 lashes for being with a man who wasn’t her husband.

November 17, 2017: Woman is caned for adultery. 

January, 2018: Indonesian Christian man is publicly flogged 36 times for selling alcohol.

February, 2018: Man and woman, both also Christian, flogged six and seven times respectively for playing a children’s entertainment game.

July 13, 2018: Gay couple flogged for having sex and woman caned for selling alcohol. 

September 20, 2018: Woman caned in front of large crowds for pre-marital sex  

October 29, 2018: Couple caned in public for being in ‘close proximity’ to her boyfriend. 

March 20, 2019: Five couples caned after being caught cuddling, holding hands or having sex 

April 15, 2019: Indonesian woman caned for having sex outside of marriage.

July 31, 2019: Three caned 100 times for having pre-marital sex.  

September 19, 2019: Indonesian woman collapses in pain as she is flogged for ‘showing affection in public’. She was one six who were given at least 20 lashes each for the ‘offense’.

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