Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh – A human rights activist on Thursday slammed the humiliating punishment meted out to a teacher in Aceh Barat and the married woman he was suspected of having an affair with after the pair were marched through a village naked, tied to a pole and then brutally beaten.
"To parade people around naked is not sanctioned in Islam," said Zulfikar Muhammad, an activist from a coalition of human rights organizations in the staunchly Muslim province.
"The acts of the villagers who paraded the two through a village clearly violates both Islamic Shariah law and human rights. Islam upholds justice and the rights of human beings."
Zulfikar's statement comes after T Abdurrazak, operational commander of Aceh's feared Shariah Police, confirmed on Thursday that the teacher, identified as Bus, 36, and was reportedly from an Islamic boarding school in Aceh Besar, had been caught in the bedroom of Yus, a 28-year-old housewife, in Seuneubok village, Meulaboh district, on Wednesday. The case is being dealt with by Aceh Barat Police.
Villagers had suspected for at least a year that the couple were having an affair, Abdurrazak said, adding that Yus's husband was seldom at home because his job required him to travel out of town extensively.
He said villagers claimed they had often seen Bus enter through the back door of the house at night whenever the husband was out.
Abdurrazak said the villagers had decided to catch the couple in the act and at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, they broke down the door and allegedly found the pair in the bedroom. Abdurrazak, however, said he did not know whether the couple had actually been caught in in the act of committing adultery.
"Even though the Shariah Police has every right to investigate this violation, we do not have investigators as yet," he said. "We are therefore working in collaboration with local Aceh Barat Police to process the case."
According to a local Shariah regulation, adulterers face a maximum punishment of being publicly caned nine times.
"If the Qanun Jinayat had been signed by Aceh's governor, the couple could have faced stoning to death," Abdurrazak added, referring to the controversial set of local bylaws passed in September by the province's legislative council to replace parts of the Criminal Code. Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf refused to sign off on the new code citing humanitarian grounds.
Abdurrazak said the pair were marched naked through the village and then both tied to a pole and beaten. After the police arrived to rescue the couple, they were rushed to the Cut Nyak Dhien General Hospital in the district capital of Meulaboh for emergency treatment, he added.