Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yasmin Church celebrates Sunday Mass in front of presidential palace in Jakarta

Hundreds of members of the Yasmin Church (GKI) in Bogor staged a demonstration Sunday in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta, calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop the acts of discrimination and intimidation against them. 

GKI members also held their Sunday service in front of the palace.

“We came here so that the top leader of the country may help solve this problem, for love of the rule of law and the defence of diversity in Indonesia,” Yasmin Church spokesperson Bona Sigalingging said. Yasmin Church members continue to endure intimidation, he added.

In the past month, Islamic radicals and public officials tried twice to prevent Sunday service. “The mayor of Bogor informed us that we could not conduct celebrations on our Church’s land or near it. This is a form of intimidation,” he explained.

Bogor mayor Diani Budiarto has blocked construction work of the Yasmin Church despite the fact that the GKI has a permit to build. He has also refused to accept a ruling by the Supreme Court issued in 2010, which authorised construction.

Meanwhile, the Yasmin Church spokesperson said that Java launched an investigation against a church member, Jayadi Damanik, for resisting a public official. The charge is based on an incident in October when an officer, Bambang Budyanto, head of the Civil Service Police Unit (Satpol PP) in Bogor, was knocked out during a clash with Church members.

Church spokesperson Bona Sigalingging said that that the GKI filed charges against Bambang for using violence in trying to interrupt a religious ceremony and against the mayor of Bogor for trying to do the same.

For Sigalingging, the victim of aggression was treated as a criminal. “This is what happened to the Ahmadiyah,” he explained, referring to a Muslim minority sect opposed by radical Muslims and public officials,

Since 2008, the GKI has been forced to celebrate Sunday services on the sidewalk of its church building or in private homes because of protests and intimidations by radical Muslims.

By allowing “intolerant radical groups to intimidate the congregation repeatedly,” Sigalingging said, the mayor has shown to be their supporter.