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ICC Note:

With a new president and a new minister of religious affairs in Indonesia, GKI Yasmin church in Bogor expressed their hopes that, after years of being sealed, the reopening of the church was in sight. However, the mayor Bima Arya said that he has “strong reasons not to open the church,” even though the Supreme Court has already ruled in the favor of the church. Will the new president Jokowi deliver the promise to improve the human rights situation in Indonesia?

12/13/2014 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe)– In the weeks after the inauguration of President Joko Widodo, representatives of the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor expressed their hopes that finally, after years of being shut out of their place of worship, the end of their ordeal was in sight.

With a new president, a new mayor in the West Java city, Bima Arya, and a new minister of religious affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, things looked a lot rosier for the congregation that saw its church sealed despite rulings from the Supreme Court and the Indonesian Ombudsman.

Bima had vowed to resolve the church dispute. But now, less than two weeks away from Christmas, the mayor says he has “strong reasons not to open the church.” Considering that the Supreme Court has already ruled in the congregation’s favor, it will be interesting to see what these reasons are.

Just last Sunday, the National Police said it would take a tough stance against people targeting the country’s many minority groups. But a day later, security forces opened fire on a group of young demonstrators in Papua’s Paniai district, killing six.

On Tuesday, the president repeated his campaign promise to solve past rights abuses, as his government faced flak over the release of the man convicted of assassinating one of the nation’s most prominent human rights defenders in 2004. He served little more than half of his 14-year sentence.

Only weeks ago Amnesty International strongly criticized the administration of Joko’s predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for the use of outdated blasphemy laws against people who peacefully expressed their views. But now the editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post has tragically been charged with blasphemy for publishing a cartoon.

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