The Jakarta Post
The Bogor City administration's plan to relocate a church belonging to the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin congregation faces strong opposition from congregation members, who say the move threatens pluralism and freedom of religion.
Congregation member Jayadi Damanik, who is also a commissioner at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said the security excuses the administration had used in trying to relocate the church were illegitimate according to the Constitution. 'In the name of stability and security, minority groups are discriminated against,' Jayadi said in a visit to The Jakarta Post recently.
Bogor Mayor Bima Arya said recently that the administration was still in discussions with GKI Yasmin's umbrella church, GKI Pengadilan, to find a solution, and was considering a relocation as long as it could prevent further problems between the congregation and local residents.
Problems related to the GKI Yasmin church started in February 2008, when the administration's urban planning and parks agency issued a decree to freeze the church's building permits (IMB), following pressure from Islamic groups that opposed the construction of the church.
The congregation considered the decree illegitimate, because it was issued by the agency, not by the Bogor mayoralty office, which had issued the permit in 2006.
The congregation then petitioned the decree at three judicial institutions: the Bandung State Administrative Court (Bandung PTUN) in 2008, Jakarta PTUN in 2009 and the Supreme Court in 2010.
All the three institutions made rulings ordering the agency to revoke the decree freezing the IMB.
On March 8, 2011, the agency eventually revoked its decree, but three days later, then-Bogor mayor Diani Budiarto issued another decree, this time to cancel the IMB, leaving the church without any kind of building permit altogether.
Many see Diani's move as a way of evading the three judicial institutions' rulings, which on paper only ordered the revocation of the freezing of the church's IMB.
On June 1, 2011, the Supreme Court issued a legal opinion requesting the administration follow the court's ruling to revoke the freezing of the church's IMB. The administration considered the request as invalid, saying the agency had executed the ruling on March 8, 2011.
Jayadi said relocation was not an option for the congregation, because they had already changed location before they built the church at the current location.
He said that between 2001 and 2003, the congregation had asked private developer PT Inti Innovaco to give them for free a plot of land on its social facility area in sector V for the construction of a church.
'The company agreed, but when we processed the permit at the mayoral office, the then mayor said that Muslims already wanted to use the location for a mosque. We gave up the location and asked the company for an alternative location. The company showed us Kav. 31 [the current location], but we had to pay for it,' he explained, adding that the congregation eventually agreed to buy Kav. 31 and build the church on it.
He said a possible win-win solution for both the locals and the congregation would be building a tolerance center at Kav. 31. 'The center will have several floors, one of which will be allocated for the congregation as a worship venue, and another one for pluralism activities,' he explained. (saf)