07/23/2009, 00.00
INDONESIA

West Java, Protestant church demolished by local government

Mathias Hariyadi
According to officials, the building did not have construction permits. The community of believers’ claims they repeatedly asked permission, but received no responses. Solidarity for the Christians from the Forum for Interreligious Dialogue.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A Protestant community from Parung in the regency of Bogor, West Java province, denounces a new case of confessional discrimination in Indonesia. Local authorities have demolished a church because – they say – it has no construction permit. Believers contend that they had sought several times to obtain a permit without any response; they add that they had received the consent of the local Muslim community.

The demolition of the church took place on July 21 last and was motivated by the lack of an Izin Mendirikan Bangunan (IMB), a sort of government concession that must be obtained before the construction of buildings. Without the IMB authorities may demolish buildings, without distinction between churches and private homes. 

"We are Indonesian citizens and have the same rights as other religious confessions, before the law," says Walman Nainggolan, from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (Hkbp) community, the original indigenous population of the province of North Sumatra. Yesterday, the faithful have reported the incident to the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham), requesting that their demands be heard and a new place of worship granted.

The decision of the local government is even at odds with the will of the Muslims of the area who were not opposed to the church building. "We received support and solidarity from the forum for interreligious dialogue, but the authorities took no notice" adds Nainggolan.   The Human Rights Commission announced an appeal to the Department of Religious Affairs and warns that "the authorities in Bogor must ensure a place to pray for all, instead of tearing down the church" of the Batak faithful.

 

 

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