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Indonesian Churches Urge Government to Stop Persecution

(Pastor Paul Ciniraj, Salem Voice Ministries)

ICC Note: The Christians in Indonesia are calling for an end to the persecution they receive

2/3/07 Indonesia For full story go….(SVM News) Nationwide conference of the Protestant Churches urged the Indonesian government to stick on stopping the Christian persecution and solve the social problems very quickly.

A five days assembly of the communion of Churches in Indonesia called Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja di Indonesia (PGI) held in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province on 22 to 26 January. There were 282 participants from 82 Protestant Churches from all over Indonesia along with foreign observers and partners attended the conference.

The leaders of the entire community made a statement at the end of the assembly, asked the government to stop Shari’a (Islamic law) inspired bylaws fairly from being enacted, solve killings in Poso and treat indigenous Papuan people.

Rev. Andreas Yewangoe, the chairman of the PGI told participants the Churches see that commitment to nation building has faded, with groups placing their own selfish interests over the common good. So it is very important that the government should refresh its commitment to the common good by acting on various issues threatening the country.

“It is because the Churches are an integral part of the nation, we decided to remind the government of the commitment to the common good,” he added.

The Shari’a to be abrogated according to local laws and regulations in secular Indonesia , Statement urged. Such bylaws create religious friction and worry for the country.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population but is not an Islamic state, and the Christian leaders cautioned that implementation of Shari’a could divide the nation. Moreover, they maintained that some district heads and governors are enthusiastic about implementing Shari’a in order to strengthen their political standing.

Aceh is the only one of Indonesia ‘s 33 provinces that is allowed to enact and enforce Shari’a law, by virtue of a special autonomy arrangement, but 22 district and municipal governments have adopted Shari’a-based bylaws. Statement said.

Many of the leaders strongly said in the conference that the Indonesian government must solve the legacy of violence in Poso quickly and amicably. The government must solve this case using persuasive ways and not by force.

On 22 January, anti-terrorist police in Poso, a coastal town in Central Sulawesi province, clashed with suspected militants. This resulted in the deaths of 14 people including a policeman. The police raid came after 29 suspects on a most wanted list failed to meet a police ultimatum to surrender by last November.

Predominantly Christian and tribal Papua province faces discrimination, and it called on the government to treat Papuans fairly by ensuring them equal opportunities in all fields.

An armed separatist movement has existed ever since Papua, formerly a Dutch colony, passed to Indonesian control in 1963. A special autonomy law that then-president Megawati Soekarnoputri ratified in 2001 gave Papuans hope that their social, economic and cultural rights would be fulfilled. There has been no real improvement, that Papuans are continually deprived of their rights and still experience injustice. Church leaders argued. SVM News reporting.

Rev. Yewangoe told media persons after the end of the assembly that PGI in 2007 will prioritize political education in Churches, so that congregations understand their rights and obligation as citizens of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia .

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who opened the assembly, credited the Protestant Churches with fostering interreligious harmony in Indonesia .

North Sulawesi Vice Governor Freddy Harry Sualang, a Protestant, said in his address that the PGI daring to reject Shari’a-inspired bylaws and regulations, is a prophetic voice that the government must hear.

Sacred Heart Bishop Josephus Suwatan of Manado attended the assembly’s opening ceremony, told, “We praise the contribution of the Churches to improve the life of the nation and the state.”