Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province Tuesday for playing a children's entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures.
The pair were among five people – including a couple whipped two dozen times each for showing affection in public – who were lashed with a rattan stick.
Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law and people can be flogged for a range of offences – from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.
Five Acehnese people, two of them Christian, were punished for adultery and gambling, receiving between six and twenty two lashes.
On Tuesday, Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were flogged six and seven times respectively after being arrested for playing a long-standing game at a children's entertainment complex that lets users exchange coins for prizes or vouchers, including cash.
The pair were accused of gambling while another man Ridwan MR got 19 lashes for being involved in the game.
'This is to create a deterrent effect, in order for people not to repeat violations of Islamic sharia law,' Banda Aceh's mayor Aminullah Usman said. 'We purposely do it in front of the public... so it won't happen again.'
About 300 spectators, including some two dozen tourists from neighbouring Malaysia, jeered the gambling-accused trio as they were whipped on a makeshift stage outside a mosque. 'You are old, show remorse,' the crowd screamed.
Non-Muslim Tjia Nyuk Hwa tried to hide her face in a specially provided white cloak with head-covering hijab.
The two Christians are among just a handful of non-Muslims to be punished under Aceh's strict religious law since it was adopted in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government to end a long-running insurgency.
In January, an Indonesian Christian was flogged for selling alcohol in the province at the tip of Sumatra island, which made headlines recently after local police publicly humiliated a group of transgender women.
About 98 percent of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law.
Non-Muslims who have committed an offence that violates both national and religious laws can choose to be prosecuted under either system.
Christians and other non-Muslims sometimes choose a flogging to avoid a lengthy court process and jail term.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, which implements Islamic law, or Sharia.
Last year, two gay men who admitted having sex were flogged in Aceh, with each receiving 100 strokes of the cane, drawing heavy criticism from rights groups.
Gay sex is not illegal in the rest of Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler the Netherlands.
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.
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 this year 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.
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.
In the past two years or so, MailOnline has reported on the troubling 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
[The original title of this article was " Prisoners are dragged on stage, forced to kneel and lashed with a cane for 'adultery and gambling' as people film the brutal punishment with their mobile phones in Indonesia".]