BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – Authorities in the northwestern Indonesian province of Aceh administered public punishments on Friday on more than a dozen people accused of various crimes.
A total of 15 people, including six women received varying numbers of canings at a mosque in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, an efe-epa journalist reported.
One woman was lashed for selling alcohol in Aceh, while two men accused of being in a homosexual relationship received 87 lashes each.
The punisher, or “algojo” in Indonesian, took two breaks while caning the two men to give them sips of water.
Once their punishment was finished, one of them fell down and was rushed to a nearby ambulance.
Around 900 people, including tourists came to watch the canings, held at the Baiturrahim Mosque that faces the ocean.
That mosque, also known as “ground zero,” is well-known in Aceh because it is one of the few buildings that remained standing after the catastrophic 2004 tsunami that destroyed most of Banda Aceh.
Aceh’s tradition of caning, permitted through Islamic Sharia law that rules the province, has divided public opinion and led to concerns of its effect on tourism.
As a result, the provincial government in April pledged to move the punishments indoors and away from the public eye.
However, Sharia police in Banda Aceh reportedly have yet to draw up the technical guidelines over canings, while three other sub-districts in the province already moved public punishments indoors.
NGO Human Rights Watch last year warned Indonesia that “flogging as punishment is also recognized under international law as a form of torture,” and that “hiding abuses is not the same as ending them, and that the moral outrage over public floggings was not a one-time reaction. The world is watching.”