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(2005-11-22) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has just become informed that Jakarta authorities are stepping up plans to protect Churches against bombings during Christmas holidays, but are making no progress and even abetting other forms of persecution against Christians across Indonesia.
Police in Jakarta are taking an inventory of which Churches are holding Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in order to protect them in the face of a recent upsurge of persecution against Christians. General Crimes Sr. Comr. Moh. Jaelani said the police will be on guard even though Azahari bin Husin, the main bomb maker for the radical group Jemaah Islamiyah, was killed in a police raid last week.

Jakarta ’s Police chief Gen. Firman Gani said that the police would evaluate all churches and places of worship to decide how they could best provide security.

We have to plan specific security measures for each church as they are all different. We will not just focus on traffic over Christmas and the New Year,” he said.

While all this is needed, appreciated and wonderful, it does not address the real problem. There continues to be widespread, ongoing, coordinated persecution of Christians in outlying areas (especially in West Java and in Central Sulawesi ). ICC has reason to suspect that this often occurs with government collusion.
There have been approximately 40 violent incidents, including assassinations, stabbings and bombings, directed at Christians in the Poso area in the last two years that have passed without arrests or convictions. In the case of the recent beheadings of three high school girls, ICC earlier reported that Army units only held the main suspects until the seven-day detention period had passed and then released them. Police units re-arrested three of them on their release by the army.
In the 2005 Tentenna bombings, two witnesses who came forward were assassinated. Others that have attempted to raise the specter of government involvement in the persecution of Christians have faced the same fate.
In West Java , there have been approximately 60 Christian Church closings in the last 6 months. Islamic militants work with police and civil servants to close down churches. ICC has documents from mayors and other city officials ordering churches to cease operations. All this happens under legal provisions that are used to target only Christian groups.

In contrast, Muslims worship freely regardless of time or location. Since Christians cannot obtain permits to build churches, they are forced to worship in homes, businesses or hotels in violation of the SKB-69 law (Joint Decree regulating houses of worship). The militants then use this SKB-69 Decree to target Christians with the help of the police and civil servants. There is much discussion of updating these laws but the proposed changes would be worse than the original laws.
The Central Government has allowed persistent, malevolent, and violent persecution against Christians to go unchecked.
They have made strong pronouncements of protection for the Christian minority but there have been little concrete results.
The problem of persecution in Indonesia is systemic to the government and legal system. In order to effect change on a government where many key leaders are radical Muslims themselves, there must be a concerted effort by the international community to shine the light on this egregious situation.