A group of Islamic vigilantes and local police violently restrained four trans women and lectured them about religion.
The vigilantes were members of the infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). They were out on a Ramadan patrol in Cianjur in West Java, Indonesia.
FPI is a notorious far-right militant Islamic group that has the backing of political elites in Indonesia. They were on a patrol to ensure that people adhered to the laws of Ramadan when they cornered the women.
Ramadan is a holy month on the Islamic calendar where practicing Muslims abstain from all food and drink between sunrise and sunset.
Cianjur’s Police Chief, Soliyah, told media police patrolled with FPI to make sure businesses were not selling alcohol or food during the day.
‘FPI Cianjur sweeping warungs that are open during the day, Muslim or non-Muslim must respect Muslims who are fasting,’ an FPI supporter wrote on Facebook.
But FPI decided to expand their patrol and targeted a group of trans women and video of the interaction has gone viral. The video shows a very large group of FPI men storming a building with the women and violently removing them.
They are forced to sit on the ground outside the building as one of the FPI men yells at them about religion.
‘This reprimand is from the conscious God. I ask, do you want to go to hell or to heaven? If you want to go to heaven then as men you must become men,’ the man says.
‘We pledge to no longer be women’
After the sermon the FPI forced the women to say a pledge that they would stop living as women.
‘Go ahead and sing, but wear macho outfits so that nobody will be attracted,’ one man says in the video.
The FPI then poured water on the women’s faces so they could remove their makeup. It was only then they were left alone.
Indonesia and the trans community
Being trans is not illegal in Indonesia, but as radical Islamic groups gain more power in the country, there has been a frightening crackdown on the LGBTI community.
The Islamic province of Aceh has been in the headlines for its treatment of trans women. There have been multiple examples of vigilante groups targeting trans women. One incident saw 12 trans women having their hair forcibly shaved. They were also forced to chant like men to make them more masculine.
In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, trans women have been locked up until a family members signs them out on the condition they promise to stop living as women.
West Java is also the province of Indonesia that created a taskforce specifically to monitor LGBTI people and their activities.