Indonesian Christians: Pentecost in front of the Presidential Palace, for religious freedom
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The faithful of the Yasmin Church (YC) in Bogor and members of the Hkbp Filadelfia Protestant community celebrated the feast of Pentecost, yesterday in Jakarta, in front of the Presidential Palace. The Christians gathered near the home of the head of state of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono because deprived of their places of worship: both churches, in fact, have been closed by local authorities and areas are the focus of a litigation in progress that has been ongoing for years. And to no avail, so far, the pronouncements of the Supreme Court which established the right of religious minority - Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world - to use the places of worship because they hold rightful ownership.
The Christian community celebrated the feast of Pentecost outdoors under a blazing sun, not far from the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta. For the second time in a few weeks, the faithful have chosen the home of Yudhoyono as a symbolic place of protest to ask for "justice" on places of worship (see AsiaNews 16/04/2012 Jakarta: Hundreds of Christians ask President for justice on places of worship). Last April's event was attended by the faithful of the Gki Yasmin Church (YC), the Bogor regency in West Java, and Hkbp Filadelfia Christians, in the regency of Bekasi also in West Java. For three years the YC faithful can not access the place of worship, sealed at the behest of local authorities and the Mayor Diani Budiarto, who has denounced alleged irregularities in the release of the IBM, the permit to build places of worship in Indonesia. A similar situation to that of the Hkbp Filadelfia faithful, who have fought for years in vain against the officials of Bekasi.
The faithful have also condemned the intervention of Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa at the United Nations Council for Human Rights in Geneva (Switzerland). The Indonesian Government head of the diplomacy, according to the Protestant community, should tell the "real" situation in the country regarding religious freedom and practice of religion for minorities, including Christians. Conversely, instead he described a situation of harmony, tolerance and good relations between denominations.
The lack of a place of worship for the Yasmin Church and Hkbp Filadelfia shows that extremist groups are more powerful than the religious minorities, and that the radical movements have the support of local authorities, who do not apply the law, but follow the directives of Islamic fundamentalists. YC spokeswoman Bona Sigalingging spoke at the event strongly calling for "the President to open his eyes and take action." Her appeal was raised by dozens of groups and human rights activists, including Bungaran Saragih former Minister of Agriculture during the years of President Megawati.