As the only province in Indonesia that is allowed to enact explicitly sharia-based laws, Aceh criminalizes everything from selling alcohol to homosexuality to adultery and even the simple act of two unmarried people of the opposite sex being too close to each other.
The local government and religious police encourage citizens to snoop on each other to report these crimes, leading to frequent acts of moral vigilantism.
But sometimes Aceh's self-appointed moral police aren't content with simply handing their victims over to the actual police. Recently, a video was spread on social media showing the disgusting punishment meted out by a leering crowd on a young couple in the Ingin Jaya subdistrict of Aceh Besar, supposedly after the two teenagers were caught alone in a house.
According to the post's caption, the dark viscous liquid being poured on the young couple in the video is comberan (raw sewage).
Ingin Jaya Police Chief Nazarul Fitra confirmed that the incident took place in the village of Kayee Lee on Monday afternoon after a group of youths raided the home of a 19-year-old identified as Ar and found him inside alone with his 18-year-old girlfriend, identified as H.
"The house is indeed the home of Ar. But it is not so clear what they were doing in the house," Nazarul told local Aceh news portal Beritakini.
What is clear is what happened afterwards, when the youths forced the couple out of the home and publicly shamed them as seen in the videos.
Nazarul said police immediately drove to the scene when they heard a report about the incident in order to secure the area. By that time, the couple had already been allowed to go to a river and wash off some of the sewage, as seen in one of the videos.
In order to "avoid undesirable things," police then detained the young couple (and not, of course, the vigilantes who assaulted them with sewage in public).
The case was then handed over to the Aceh Besar Police, who said they were still investigating the couple for possibly violating sharia law based on the testimony of witnesses (who, again, were the vigilantes that broke into Ar's house and assaulted the couple).
Depending on the outcome of that investigation, the young couple could potentially face further punishment, most likely in the form of public caning, which is the sentence usually handed down to sharia violators in Aceh.
Although we could not find any other reports of sewage used to publicly shame people in Aceh, similarly vile displays have been done by actual law enforcement officers there. In late January, Sharia police detained and shamed 12 transgender women by cutting their hair and forcing them to wear men's clothes.