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ICC Note:  ICC has reported before on this church and another one in the Republic of Indonesia (RI) that has been denied a meeting place, despite having jumped through all the hoops required to establish a church under Indonesian law.  It is good to see the USCIRF also focusing on the plight of GKI Yasmin in Bogor, and perhaps this attention will bring greater pressure on the Indonesian government to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

08/29/2015 Indonesia (Jakarta Post)

A prolonged spat over the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, has once more drawn attention from abroad, with a US rights body witnessing in situ the situation faced by the beleaguered congregation.

Preparing its 2016 annual report, representatives of the Washington-based US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) joined the congregation for a Sunday morning service held at the home of one of its members in Cimanggu, Bogor.

“We’ve been following the development of this case very closely and it’s been a concern for a long time. We’ve come here so that we can work better on our reports and recommendations when we go home,” USCIRF vice chairman M. Zuhdi Jasser said on Sunday.

In its 2014 report released in April, the commission, tasked with providing policy recommendations to the US government, cited the GKI Yasmin case, stating that “local government officials continue to harass religious minorities over religious sites”.

“We are advocating for the rights of GKI Yasmin congregation members, their religious freedom and for the opening of their church,” USCIRF commissioner Daniel I Mark said.

The report, which assessed 30 countries, included Indonesia on its list of countries where governments “engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing and egregious abuses of religious freedom”, although it did not categorize Indonesia as a “country of particular concern”.

USCIRF recommended that the US government urge the Indonesian government to take measures to ease religious tensions in the county, including the revocation of a 2006 joint ministerial decree on the construction of houses of worship.

The contentious ruling stipulates that congregation members must secure approval from at least 60 local residents of different faiths and the government-sponsored Regional Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) prior to establishing houses of worship.

Although the church had met these requirements, the Bogor City Planning and Parks Agency revoked the church’s building permit (IMB) in February 2008 in the face of pressure from local residents, including Islamic hardliners.

The Bogor administration then sealed the building in April 2010.

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