Monday, February 13, 2017

Indonesian Catholics to take part in local elections amid tensions and threats few days from local elections, various Catholic associations have called on Indonesian Catholics across the nation to pick their candidate of choice without fear or reservations.
The appeal, launched yesterday by the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI), is the Catholic response to a climate of tensions and threats that has accompanied the election campaign of non-Muslim candidates running in local elections scheduled for this Wednesday (15 February) in 101 regencies across the country, including the Special Capital City District of Jakarta (DKI Jakarta).

The urgency of such a "call" stems from the critical situation in Indonesia’s political life, where operations are underway to thwart non-Muslim candidates, regardless of their political program.

A new wave of racist attacks and violent protests in the past two days have marred the renewed campaign by outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, after he was side tracked for months by  blasphemy accusations.

With the backing of the KWI Commission for the Laity (KKK), a few Indonesian Catholic associations have come out in favour of the "national interest."

Their appeal follows that of the archbishop of Jakarta Mgr Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo on 7 February, who reiterated the Church’s political neutrality and non-partisanship, as well as its support for the foundational values ​​of the state.

The declaration, entitled ‘Our choice based on the interest of the state and the nation’, was signed by the Indonesian Catholic Women Association (WKRI), the Association of intellectuals (ISKA), Catholic Youth (PK), the Association of Catholic students (PMKRI) and the Catholic Society Forum (FMKI).

"This is the time we are called to elect people who are serve the people", the associations say.
They stress the pluralistic nature of the Indonesian nation whose highest expression is Pancasila, the foundation of the Indonesian state. "This plural society should be politically guaranteed," they note.

Local elections “are primarily a political moment to develop a 'culture' based on Pancasila to achieve prosperity for all."

In their appeal, the Catholic associations urge fellow Catholics to exert their right to pick their preferred candidate in the interest of Indonesian society as a whole. "People should not be afraid” of intimidations. At the same time, “this is not a time for ignorance.”

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