06/23/2021, 15.36
INDONESIA
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Elementary school children vandalise Christian cemetery in Solo

by Mathias Hariyadi

At least 12 graves were desecrated. The offenders’ young age is a source of concern. The motives for the desecration are not yet known, but radical indoctrination in school has not been ruled out. The city’s mayor expressed his solidarity, but local Christians are bitter.

 

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – About a dozen elementary school children vandalised a Christian cemetery in Solo (Surakarta), central Java province.

The incident occurred last Monday, and the young age of the offenders is a cause for concern. In the past, incidents of this kind against places of worship or burial usually involved adults, hooligans or Islamic extremists.

According to local authorities, the vandals in this case were children aged nine to 12 from a school located near the cemetery.

At present it is not known why they did it, whether religion or vandalism for its own sake were behind it.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Heri Wibowo, executive secretary of the Interreligious Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, called for special rules given the young age of the offenders.

“They cannot be prosecuted but they should be reprimanded by their parents, who should offer them guidance,” said the clergyman, who was on a visit to Papua.

At least 12 graves at Cemoro Kembar Cemetery in Mojo, Pasar Kliwon, central Solo, were desecrated.

Reactions across the country has been negative, with many calling for checks on what is being taught in schools, which might have prompted the kids to do what they did.

Solo Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is also the eldest son of Indonesian President Widodo, on a visit to the cemetery expressed solidarity and called for “those responsible to be punished” and the school they attended “to be closed.”

Mojo chief Margono called for police to act, saying that both pupils and teachers are not from the area.

Investigators led by Police Chief Achmad Riedwan have not ruled out “misleading religious teachings” behind this expression of intolerance.

Andreas Budi, a Christian from Solo, is bitter over the “decapitation” of his mother’s and wife’s tombstones by elementary school students.

Christian crosses and symbols were vandalised. Fr Wibowo wants those responsible to be brought to justice “so that this does not happen again.”

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