Many human rights organisations travelled to Indonesia and Malaysia to strengthen their ties with one and another and the global UJN network. Among the representatives was Imam Al Asi from Washington Elected Imam of Washington DC Mosque and Dr Javad Sharbaf lecturer in Political Science at Tehran University. In Indonesia, the organsiations headed to Bandung, Indonesia where they were met by local activists. A meeting was set up where several workshops took place, allowing activists the platform to learn and share with others from around the world. Imam Al-Asi spoke on the Arab Spring highlighting the Western attempts to infiltrate and hijack the revolutions that are taking place across the Middle East. IHRC Chair, Massoud Shadjareh spoke on the need for unity and to build the capacity of human rights organizations whilst strengthening global ties. The meeting was a success and UJN felt that the points resonated well with the participants.
On the last evening of the visit to Indonesia, the UJN team was invited to the residence of the Governor of West Java, Ahmad Heryawan, and was hosted by his wife Netty Heryawan. Netty Heryawan is a humanitarian that has helped many street children and helps them in their rehabilitation. She has paid for many of the girl’s education and helped them move forward after they were exploited for the sex trade. She also pledged to look into working with UJN. Massoud Shadjareh and Mohideen Abdul Kader from Citizens International (CI) also pledged to work with her and both parties agreed that migrant worker rights is a major issue.
UJN representatives from IHRC and CI met with Muhammad Anshor, Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They raised points during this meeting on Indonesia doing more to represent Islam and Muslim issues, tackling sectarianism and abuses against migrant workers.
In Malaysia, IHRC and CI presented a joint workshop held at the University of Malaysia in the Islamic Studies department. Imam Al Asi spoke on ‘Islam and Human Rights, Arzu Merali spoke on ‘Human rights and anti-imperialism’ and Massoud Shadjareh spoke on activism. Questions arose as to whether demonstrating was haram or not. Imam Al Asi explained that it was not demonstrations that were haram in and of themselves but how demonstrations could be used for both good and bad.
UJN, IHRC and CI met with some Malaysian Shias who are facing discrimination; Haji Abdul Rashid, Muhammed Kamal and Haji Mahmood. Since the IHRC’s last visit they have written to the federal government about the recognition of their ‘faith’ and ‘sect’. But Massoud Shadjareh encouraged them not to isolate themselves from the rest of the Muslims by referring to themselves as a different ‘faith’ or ‘sect’, but seek unity as this is much more in line with the anti-sectarian message of IHRC and CI.