Bogor Mayor Rejects Kalla’s Offer to Act as Peacemaker in Church Dispute
Bogor. Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla has offered a helping hand as a mediator in the GKI Yasmin dispute, saying he is happy to help if the opposing parties — the Bogor city administration and the embattled church’s congregation — ask for his help.
But Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto quickly rejected the offer, saying the city administration did not need a mediator.
He said the city administration had taken a variety of steps to overcome the problem but was unable to solve it.
“We have offered a compromise of relocation to a more representative location, but there are still obstacles,” he said.
Kalla, who helped resolve the Aceh separatist conflict in the mid-2000s, said followers of a religion should be able to build houses of worship, be it a mosque, church, temple or other building.
“Worship houses can be built anywhere. The location or street should not be limited, and prayers can also be conducted anywhere because God is everywhere,” he said.
He added that people should be happy when they saw a place worship because it helped create peace.
Kalla also lamented the Bogor administration’s failure to ensure that its residents could conduct their prayers peacefully.
Diani said he had prepared several strategies so that the outcome did not hurt any party, among them returning all the money that GKI Yasmin spent to acquire a permit. He is also offering to buy GKI Yasmin’s building and land on Jalan K.H. Abdullah bin Muhammad Nuh.
“The Home Affairs Ministry gave us a chance to solve it. The Supreme Court had also advised GKI to take legal action if they weren’t happy. Basically, the government wants a conducive environment for all,” he said.
However, he refused to give any timeframe when asked how soon the city administration planned to resolve the dispute. “Let’s just wait and see,” he said.
Last week, the GKI Yasmin congregation took the matter to the Constitutional Court because it was disappointed with the president’s vague pledges to “resolve” the plight of the church.
Andreas Yewangoe, chairman of the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI), said last week that there was deep frustration in the Christian community over the state’s failure to make the Bogor administration comply with a Supreme Court order to unseal the church and allow the congregation to worship in peace.
“Last December, we reported this matter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the hope that he would admonish the mayor and force him to carry out the ruling, but all we’ve received are promises,” he said at the Constitutional Court.
“Now we’re hearing him talk about how he can’t personally intervene because of the regional autonomy law, which meant it was the Bogor mayor’s business.”