Police warned HKPB church
not conduct religious services

The Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church had received a warning letter from the Bekasi Police urging congregation members not to attend a church services,  the church’s lawyer said Sunday.

Church leader ST Sihombing was stabbed by unidentified attackers on his way to the church compound on Sunday morning. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he is in critical condition.

A priest was also beaten by a group of attackers.

The HKBP Church received a warning letter from the Bekasi Police three days before the incident. The letter urged parishioners not to attend church services because of rising security risks that might threaten their safety.

“From a logical legal perspective, if the police had prior knowledge of a potential threat, why didn’t they implement standard operating procedures to ensure security? Or were the police involved?” asked Saor Siagian, an attorney for the HKBP church, as quoted by kompas.com, adding that he was suspicious that the police might have been involved in a series of violent acts perpetrated against the HKBP church.

“If they were informed about a possible attack, the police should have taken anticipatory measures,” he said.

The police request for church members not to attend their Sunday worship deviates from Indonesia’s professed commitment to religious freedom, Saor added.

“The police do not have the authority to ask people not to worship. If they do so, they are interfering in the delicate balance between politics and religion, which takes their focus away from their main duties,” Saor said.

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