The Jakarta Post
Police have arrested a 25-year-old resident of South Rejowinangun village for damaging 19 cross-shaped grave markers in several cemeteries in Magelang, Central Java.
Magelang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Kristanto Yoga Darmawan said the suspect, identified only as FK, had a history of mental illness and the police would examine his mental state as they investigated the case.
“We will observe the suspect at Soerojo Psychiatric Hospital to determine whether he really has a mental illness," he said.
Darmawan said a resident first spotted FK at Candi Nambangan cemetery in Gelangan village on Friday night. The suspect was allegedly seen destroying a cross-shaped grave marker and holding an iron hammer.
The police have confiscated several pieces of evidence, including the hammer, iron sticks and wire.
He added that FK was last admitted to a psychiatric hospital in April 2017 and underwent alternative therapy in Kalibawang in Kulon Progo, Central Java, before he returned to Magelang.
“The head of the neighborhood unit where FK lives said he had been treated at the Soerojo hospital."
During the initial questioning, FK claimed to have damaged grave markers at four cemeteries in Magelang, namely Giriloyo, Malangan, Kiringan and Candi Nambangan cemeteries. The Jakarta Post found witnesses who said they saw him desecrate grave markers in Segadoeng cemetery.
Before the incidents in Magelang, residents of Purbayan, Yogyakarta, cut the top off of a cross-shaped grave marker at the grave of 63-year-old Albertus Slamet Sugihardi, who was a Christian. According to a local figure in the village, the residents had the approval of the family of the deceased. The grave marker now resembles the letter “T”, while the portion of the cross that was cut off, which reads “RIP”, was placed beside it.
The action has caused uproar in the Muslim-majority country, which frequently faces cases of religious intolerance.
Paulus Christian Siswantoko of the Bishops Council of Indonesia said the incidents in both Purbayan and Magelang should serve as a wake-up call for the government about the need to protect the country’s religious minorities against growing intolerance and violence.
He added that, with the country facing legislative and presidential elections in April, any issue could be deliberately used to disrupt the democratic process.
“The government must constantly remain vigilant about this issue. This is a ‘yellow alert’ for them about the need to pay attention to even the most minor of social issues. If this situation is not handled properly, similar incidents will occur nationwide. The law must be upheld,” Paulus said.
Indonesian Communion of Churches spokesperson Jeirry Sumampow said the police should immediately investigate the incidents.
He added that he believed the incidents in Purbayan and Magelang were perpetrated by people who were deliberately seeking to exploit the intolerance issue ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
“These events were unusual. The police should investigate them to reduce public anxiety,” Jeirry said. (ggq)