Punk’s definitely kicking and alive in Aceh

Photograph: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images

During my college years I wanted to get a mohawk haircut. It never happened, but if I were in Aceh I might want to shelve that thought forever.

It all started when a group of 64 punkers attended an orphanage charity rock concert “Aceh for Punk”. According to a twitter user, whose brother was one of the punkers involved, as they were about to go on stage, they were stopped by the Banda Aceh deputy city mayor, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, and the Aceh sharia police. Their reason, the punkers did not have permission to perform.

Whatever justification it may be, the following events was the “moral re-education” of these young punkers, most who are still in school. They were shaved, their punk attire stripped, thrown into pools of water for “spiritual cleansing” and they were given brushes because they are seen as dirty and have never showered for days.

Illiza, who’s involved in many Aceh sharia raids, further explained that these punkers are “creating public nuisance” and determines to pursue the punkers who escaped the raid on last Saturday (10/12). Illiza’s argument was that these punkers are also morally corrupt, because “men and women are together and it conflicts with Islamic sharia”.

Indonesia’s Aceh province was given special autonomy to implement sharia law after the peace agreement to end the separatist struggle in 2005. The current struggle, it seems, is questioning whether enforcing these sharia principles makes common sense.

Being a punker is an ideology, it is an identity. Though I do not know much about being a punk rocker, I know for sure that just by being one it is not amoral. Hence, the purpose of these moral re-education in Aceh is baseless and have the potential to violate their human rights.

Iskandar Hasan, Aceh’s police chief, however, denied the human rights violation allegation:

“We’re not torturing anyone,” he said. “We’re not violating human rights. We’re just trying to put them back on the right moral path.”

Whose moral path is it again?