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Punishments under Sharia are rooted in cultural traditions and few are willing to speak publicly against it. It was years ago and it didn't faze him much. The year-old cannot even remember what the people were accused of - just that they were taken to a public square at a local mosque and flogged with a rattan cane in front of a crowd of onlookers.
Now he avoids public canings. Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, is one of Indonesia's most religiously conservative areas, and is the only part of the archipelago to impose penalties on its residents under Islamic law. Once one of the most powerful Islamic sultanates in Southeast Asia, the area had long used an informal kind of Islamic law mixed with local laws, known as "hukum adat".
But the legislation was enhanced when Aceh's long-running separatist conflict ended in The laws have been gradually expanded to more offences, most recently in The practice had already caused shock among the international community, and after Brunei attracted global condemnation over its plan to step up punishments under Islamic law, attention also turned to Aceh. Officials from Brunei had travelled to the area for advice on implementing the punishments. Initially, the plan was to impose the death penalty for gay sex , but Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei's absolute monarch, then announced that a moratorium on capital punishment would be extended.
Those who had picketed the sultan's luxury hotels and called for a boycott of the country claimed the decision as a victory. In , the first full year when Islamic laws were implemented in Aceh, people, including 39 women, were caned, according to Human Rights Watch. No one who had been whipped was prepared to talk about what had happened to him, even anonymously. Hamid says caning in public violates international law prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment to which Indonesia is a state party.
He adds the punishment is severer than a "light tapping with a cane" as it is often described by its supporters. Hendra, the academic, says that while there are people who oppose Islamic law punishments, few are willing to discuss the issue publicly.