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Still Unable to Worship: Indonesian Church Laments Government Inaction

ICC Note: Despite the fact that Indonesia’s government verbally supports a policy of widespread religious tolerance cases of persecution still exist. One of the most prominent is that of the GKI Yasmin church in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, which was forced from its building over a year ago and unable to hold worship services after radical Muslim groups pressured the local government to evict them. Despite taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court and winning, the cities mayor has refused to allow the church back into their building. The churches case is an example of just how much influence radical Islamic groups still hold in Indonesia.

10/06/2012 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe) – The representative of a Bogor church whose congregation has been blocked from attending services has lambasted the national government and law enforcers for their sluggishness in resolving cases of religious intolerance across the country.

Jayadi Damanik from the GKI Yasmin Church said no lasting solution had been found to the impasse in which the West Java church has been sealed off on the orders of local officials.

He said he had attempted to use legal tools and out-of-court settlements with the support of human rights activists, but had failed to achieve a breakthrough. But he said officials had promised him a resolution this year.

“The central government, [the] provincial government, directors general, [the] home affairs minister said they would settle it before Christmas,” Jayadi told a forum in Jakarta on Friday.

Jayadi said that during the ordeal he had heard many “lies” — promises from the central and provincial governments that fail to materialize. “Why are they doing [this] to GKI Yasmin followers? What did they do wrong to be treated like [this]? Nobody could give an answer,” he said.

Jayadi criticized the police and law enforcers who failed to protect religious freedom. “If [you] cannot settle it, then get mediation. If it’s still not settled, then take it to court.

“Many reports to the police were not followed up. Legal processes in other places also don’t run well,” he added.

Jayadi said that he and other Yasmin Church followers did not want religiously intolerant people to be punished severely, but that they wanted justice to be served.

The case has drawn widespread condemnation, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled that the church closure was illegal and ordered it reopened. However, the Bogor authorities and the central government have refused to enforce the ruling by the country’s highest court.

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