Human rights watchdogs have attacked the decision to disband the Indonesian Christian Church in Taman Yasmin (GKI Yasmin) in Bogor, West Java, demanding the government complies with a court ruling on the church.
At the Wahid Institute on Wednesday, a loose coalition of human rights groups revealed that the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) had agreed to close GKI Yasmin and would use the half-built church for another purpose.
The human rights activists believe the government is behind the dissolution of the church.
Setara Institute deputy director Bonar Tigor Naipospos said that the government must not use a shortcut like closing the church to resolve religious conflicts.
“The government should execute the Supreme Court ruling and the recommendation by the National Ombudsman, both of which legalize the presence of the church,” he said.
“It’s the duty of the government to guarantee religious freedom.”
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the GKI Yasmin congregation had the right to build a church in Bogor.
Bogor’s Muslim mayor has persistently declined a building permit and sealed the church. Members of the congregation have often been attacked by a mob while trying to hold services in and around the site of church.
GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging said that the GKI closed the church because of fears that a continued struggle to build a church and conduct services would bring about chaos.
“The decision is not final for us because a higher decision was determined by a congress of the various denominations of the GKI,” he said.
“They have agreed to annul the decision and to involve us any further decisions about the church.”
Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Haris Azhar said he feared the government would dissolve institutions whenever religious conflict occurred as a matter of course.
“Dissolution is no way to solve the problem. It endangers religious harmony and tolerance in Indonesia,” he said.
The idea of disbanding or relocating a religious group to prevent wider conflict has been proposed by the government several times. The Shiite community in Sampang, Madura has been forced to relocate after being attacked by Sunnis, while Muslim Ahmadiyah sect have been living in a shelter for seven years after an angry mob attacked and burned their village in Ketapang, West Nusa Tenggara.
Setara 264 attacks against minorities last year, a significant jump from 144 cases in 2011.
The incidents have tainted the reputation for the country with most United Nations members questioning Indonesian’s record on religious tolerance during the universal periodic review. (cor)