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06/24/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On June 16, children from a school in Solo, Central Java province, vandalized twelve graves at Cemoro Kembar Cemetery. The Christian graves were defaced and damaged. The culprits were ten children between the ages of nine and twelve.

The children attended a nearby school, which had been operating without an educational license. It is suspected that the vandalism was motivated by religious intolerance, which was likely being taught at the school.

The mayor of Solo, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, expressed anger upon learning that there was a religious motivation for the vandalism committed by children. He said, “Just shut [the school down]. It’s all wrong, the teachers, the students…we will counsel the children and straighten their mindsets.

The city administration reported the school’s administrators and teachers to the police for motivating a suspected hate crime. The thirty-nine children who attend the school will receive counseling. Indonesian public opinion condemns this act of religious intolerance, and many are calling for an investigation into the school to check for possible indoctrination by educators.

Fr. Heri Wibowo, the executive secretary of the Inter-religious Commission of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, calls for the creation of a statute and special norms since the vandals were children. He told AsiaNews, “They cannot be prosecuted,” explains the priest originally from Papua, “but ‘scolded’ by the parents who have the task of directing them in their behavior.” He added, “If these acts are perpetrated by adults, then those who have ‘engineered’ these operations must be prosecuted.”

 Andreas Budi, a Christian from Solo, was deeply saddened and bitter upon seeing the graves of his mother and wife “beheaded” by elementary school students. The students vandalized all the Christian crosses and symbols in the cemetery. Fr. Wibowo hopes for the intervention of justice “so that these acts are never repeated” in the future.

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