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Indonesia: Local government closes church defying court order

A Christian protestant church, GKI Taman Yasmin in the regency of Bogor, Indonesia was forced to cease activities by Bogor's regency on Sunday night. The police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) surrounded the church, disbanded a church meeting, then sealed the building by the city's order.

The Public Order Agency's main purpose is to help the police and local government maintain public order. However, given the rather militaristic and sudden action, some fear the church closing is actually inspired by a broader Islamist campaign against Christians and church groups in the Muslim majority nation. Last week, two church leaders were stabbed in Bekasi Regency, on the eastern border of the capital city, Jakarta.

Local mainstream media have so far showed little interest. Twitter once again became a great reporting tool for those directly involved.

On early Sunday morning (September 19), Bona Sigalingging, one of the church's member, posted a string of tweets:

Polisi makin banyak, denpom akan dikerahkan. Alasannya keamanan. Kalo alasannya keamanan, kenapa kami yg diusir? Kami yg punya IMB lengkap!

Update 1:Jemaat msh dilokasi Gereja.Polisi makin byk,ultimatum jemaat pulang.Jemaat btahan ddpn pagar.Mbl polisi mulai pepet jemaat.

Update2:Pukul1.03jemaat GKI bnyanyi dan bdoa dbwh ancaman polisi utk bubar.Jemaat tetap btahan.
Update3:Pukul 1.07.Anggota Detasemen Polisi Militer mulai tlihat dilokasi.Kehadirannya mengintimidasi jemaat.Jemaat bertahan.Nyanyi dan doa.
Update4:02.47wib.Jemaat GKI msh btahan ddpn gerbang gereja,mencegah dtutupnya areal trotoar dan areal dpn gerbang oleh mobil2 polisi.
Update5:Pencegahan dtutupny trotoar oleh polisi hrs dlakukan agar ttap ada ruang bagi jemaat utk ibadah hari minggu sekalipun di trotoar lg.
Update6:Jemaat tampak tidur beralaskan tikar,dgn keyakinan penuh utk mptahankan iman dan hak beribadah yg dijamin konstitusi.
Update 7: 03.51 wib. Polisi:gerbang gereja digembok lagi adalah krn ada ancaman keamanan hari minggu ini bila jemaat ibadah didalam gereja
06.54 wib:mobil anti huru hara datang!Tp tetap saja Tuan-Tuan,kami ibadah 8 wib, mski hanya di trotoar ini http://plixi.com/p/45892275
Entah mengapa Anda kirim mobil anti huu hara ini.Kami hanya ingin ibadah,menyapa Tuhan yg disp o/ milyaran orang di dunia dlm beragam nama!

More police arrived, military police detachment (Denpom) will soon arrive. Security reasons (they said). If it's security, why are we the ones who are driven out? We have the proper building permit.

Update1: Congregation are still on location. More police arrived, they told us to go home. Congregation stayed outside, between the fence and the police cars.

Update 2: 1:03 AM, the congregation sings and prays under the police threat to disperse. The congregation stayed put.

Update 3: 1:07 AM, members of the military police detachment (Denpom) are seen on the location. Their presence is to intimidate us. The congregation stayed put, singing and praying.

Update 4: 2:47 AM. The Presbyterian church congregation is still outside the church's gate, trying to stop the police cars that blocked the sidewalks and front gate areas.

Update 5: Congregation trying to stop the police blocking the sidewalks where they planned to perform their Sunday service.

Update 6: Congregation sleeps on top of straw mats, still with confidence to defend their faith and right to worship which is protected by constitution.

Why did they send the anti-riot vehicle? All we want is to worship, greeting the same God that is greeted by billions of people in the world, whatever their religions are.

GKI Taman Yasmin begun their Sunday service singing the national anthem. Photo uploaded on Plixi by @bonasays.

The church building permit was first revoked by the Bogor Administrative government on February 14, 2008, two years after the issuance of their permit. The administrative government cited public disturbance as an excuse to close down the place of worship. However, the court of justice overturned the Bogor administration's decision, and the church was reopened August 27 only to be re-closed a few days after.

Last Friday, at an inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Indonesia Joint Commission in Washington DC, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, told Indonesian Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa, that she has been impressed by the Indonesian Government’s protection of individuals exercising different religions.

Clinton brought up the importance of religious tolerance as very important for the Indonesians and the Indonesian democracy. In response, Natalegawa said:

“Indonesia is, obviously, a very diverse country. We celebrate our diversity, as a matter of fact. And therefore, when we promote our democracy, nowadays, it is very much in full recognition of the need to ensure that people of all faiths continue to enjoy the freedom to exercise their faiths.”

However, some people fear that President Bambang Yudhoyono's administration is not delivering on this promise. As said by an interfaith activist and Jakarta resident, Trisno Susanto on a public Facebook profile:

“Malam ini, GKI Taman Yasmin di Bogor digembok lagi. Beberapa orang yang mencoba berdialog malah dikepung satpol PP atas perintah Bupati. Sungguh absurd, karena PTUN sudah memenangkan gugatan sehingga IMB GKI Yasmin sah. Negara ini bukan lagi tunduk pada preman, tapi sudah menjadi preman sendiri!”

Tonight, the Indonesian Presbyterian Church in Taman Yasmin Bogor is again sealed. Some of the people who tried to hold talks were surrounded by the Public Order Agency ordered by the city's regent. This is so absurd, the court appeased Taman Yasmin's building permit appeal. This country is not only submitting to thuggery, it became the thug themselves.

2 comments

  • The governments must take over or get rid of the churches in order to control the people. Churches let everyone know that their basic rights come from God and not the government. If you think your rights come from government then they can take it away. If they come from God then only he can take them away

  • Andy

    The world should take this violation of human rights very seriously! I just don’t understand why Secretary Clinton said that she has been impressed by the Indonesian Government’s protection of individuals exercising different religions while in reality Christians are not allowed to build churches in the places not very far from Jakarta, the capital city.

    Indonesia seems to be now controlled by extremists and the current government cannot do anything to protect the basic rights of minority groups. Shame to President SBY!!!

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