Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Wed, December 11 2013, 10:54 AM
Muslim intellectual Dawam Rahardjo won the 2013 Yap Thiam Hien human rights award for what the committee described as his “consistent fight to uphold religious equality and pluralism”.
The award committee said as this year’s theme was “strengthening unity in diversity”, Dawam, 71, was the right person to win the award.
The Yap Thiam Hien Award, named in honor of a Chinese-Indonesian human rights activist and former member of the House of Representatives, has been given to scores of figures and institutions that have played a significant role in promoting human rights.
A gala to honor Dawam will be held by the Yap Thiam Hien foundation in the third week of January.
Dawam, who is founder of the Institute for Religious and Philosophy Studies (LSAF), was born in Baluwarti village in Surakarta (Solo) on April 20, 1942. He grew up in a moderate Muslim family and was a member of Indonesia’s second largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, before he was expelled for his stance on religious pluralism in 2006.
Dawam, has publicly said that only pluralism would ensure tolerance and peace in this country, which has millions of followers of different religions and faiths.
He also consistently campaigned that violence had no place in religion as it not only tainted religion but also the nation.
In 2011, his name appeared on a list of mail bomb recipients targeted by hardliners. The most recent package was sent to the Liberal Islam Network (JIL) leader Ulil Abshar Abdalla.
The biggest consequence of his actions has been that many people doubt Dawam’s faith as a Muslim, an accusation that he has denied, explaining that he had done everything for his love for Islam.
“It is because I am a strong Muslim, I know Islam is a peaceful religion and against violence. I am trying to save my religion from destruction,” he told The Jakarta Post in 2011.
The decision to name Dawam winner of this year’s award was made by a panel consisting of women’s rights activist Saparinah Sadli; pluralism campaigner Siti Musdah Mulia; lawyer and human rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis; ASEAN Foundation executive director Makarim Wibisono; Law Human Rights Ministry director general of human rights Harkristuti Harkrisnowo; founder of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) Djohan Effendi; as well as journalists Maria Margaretha Hartiningsih and Wahyu Muryadi.
Panel member Makarim said that Dawam was selected from 60 figures working in fields such as education, politics and human rights.
“His track record made him stand out. Although, he has been on the receiving end of threats and intimidation, he continues to fight for religious freedom,” Makarim told the Post.
In 2012, Tempo magazine won the Yap Thiam Hien Award, while in 2011 the foundation named former commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Soetandyo Wignjosoebroto winner of the award.