Christian couple sentenced to flogging for gambling in Aceh
Dahlan Sili Tongga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were convicted for breaking Islamic law. Aceh is the only territory in Indonesia to enforce Sharia. The couple chose corporal punishment over prison. Each lash is the equivalent to a month in prison.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The authorities of Banda Aceh, capital of the province of Aceh (Sumatra island), ordered the flogging of an unmarried Christian couple.
The two, both ethnic Chinese, were arrested for gambling in a city entertainment centre, thus contravening Islamic criminal law, called hukum jinayat.
The Aceh Sharia Court sentenced 61-year-old Dahlan Sili Tongga and 45-year-old Tjia Nyuk Hwa to eight and seven lashes respectively with a bamboo cane (pictured) for violating provincial law.
Aceh is the only territory in Indonesia to enforce Sharia, but non-Muslims convicted of crimes under the country’s Penal Code such as gambling can choose to be punished by incarceration or by Islamic law.
The couple chose corporal punishment – each cane lash is the equivalent to a month in prison.
The public flogging took place yesterday in front of the Babussalam mosque in Lampaseh Aceh, Meuraxa, before local inhabitants, who insulted and taunted the offenders, as well as tourists from Malaysia.
The court also sentenced another person, 67-year-old Ridwan, to 22 lashes for allowing the game to take place on his premises.
“This punishment shows our commitment [to implementing sharia]. We want to create a deterrent so that other people do not violate Sharia,” said Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman, adding that the caning was deliberately carried out in an open space so that the public could see it.
“This is different to imprisonment, in which the public can’t see [the convicts being punished],” said the mayor, who called on people to report any violations of Sharia to local authorities.
On 19 February, seven city residents were flogged in public for gambling. They received six lashes each.