Relocating Yasmin Church Perpetuates Religious Intolerance in Indonesia

By ICC’s Indonesia Correspondent

06/19/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – For fifteen years, Yasmin Church in Bogor, Indonesia, has struggled with the local government to obtain a building permit (IMB). Despite the longevity of this problem, it is as simple as the Indonesian government, particularly the Bogor City government, preferring to accommodate intolerant Islamic radicals by hindering the development of the Yasmin Church building.

On Sunday, June 13, Bogor Mayor Bima Arya handed over the Deed of Land Grant to the Indonesian Christian Church intending to relocate Yasmin Church. Mayor Arya claimed that this act was a final solution and an achievement in resolving the longstanding problem.

To quote a statement made by Mayor Arya at the time of the submission of the land grant deed, “This is the massage from Bogor to the world that peace has never been attained by judging each other, peace can only be achieved by understanding each other. Peace cannot be obtained by the exercise of force, but peace must be built by the basis of mutual understanding.”

However, despite the mayor’s word, the Yasmin Church administrators firmly rejected the relocation. The church leadership and congregation, represented by Bona Sigalingging and Jayadi Damanik and several legal aid agencies, held a press conference at the National Commission for Women on June 15. ICC was able to attend via Zoom.

In a press release, Yasmin Church leadership said, “Bogor Mayor Bima Arya handed over the Deed of Land Grant to the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI), which he claimed was a solution and achievement in resolving the Yasmin GKI case. Is that right?” The Yasmin Church leadership gives a big question mark as to whether the achievements claimed by Mayor Arya are indeed achievements.

Yasmin Church leadership had previously asked of Mayor Arya that he “implement the solution that has been given the decision of the Supreme Court Review and the Mandatory Recommendation of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia.”

From the beginning, Yasmin Church has asked Mayor Arya to implement the court’s decision which has permanent, final, and binding legal force. The court decision in question is the Supreme Court’s (MA) Judicial Review Decision Number 127 PK/TUN/2009, which has permanent legal force declaring the validity of the GKI Yasmin church’s IMB. This court decision took place in 2010. Furthermore, the mandatory recommendation of the Indonesian Ombudsman, numbered 0011/REK/0259.2010/BS-15/VII/2011 and dated July 8, 2011, also certifies the validity of Yasmin Church’s building permit.

Indonesia’s ICC representative stated, “[Mayor] Bima Arya has said that peace cannot be obtained through the exercise of force, but he has used his authority as mayor of Bogor City against Yasmin Church in the form of asking to it relocate. Bima Arya should have carried out the constitutional mandate by complying with the 2010 decision made by the Supreme Court of Indonesia.” Mayor Arya’s refusal to carry out the constitutional mandate is an act of religious intolerance.

Mayor Arya should have followed the example of the Regent of North Minahassa, North Sulawesi Province, Vonny Panambunan, whose area is predominantly Christian. When a Christian group protested against Muslims constructing a meeting hall as a place of worship in one of the housing estates, Vonny Panambunan ensured that his government protected the Muslims’ rights to freedom of religion and allow them to worship there.

It is clear that the steps taken by the mayor of Bogor, Bima Arya, are not an achievement for Yasmin Church but a setback. This is not a question of land; this is about rights and equality of rights. Every citizen is free to practice their religion, worship, and build houses of worship according to the constitution in the Pancasila state.

Yasmin Church must remain solid in its stance. This struggle is no longer just the church’s struggle, but it is a struggle to make sure the authorities uphold the constitution and to not submit to intolerant radical Islamic groups.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?