Still Unable to Worship, GKI Yasmin Church Laments Govt Inaction
The representative of a Bogor church whose congregation has been blocked from attending services has lambasted the national government and law enforcers for their sluggishness in resolving cases of religious intolerance across the country.
Jayadi Damanik from the GKI Yasmin Church said no lasting solution had been found to the impasse in which the West Java church has been sealed off on the orders of local officials.
He said he had attempted to use legal tools and out-of-court settlements with the support of human rights activists, but had failed to achieve a breakthrough. But he said officials had promised him a resolution this year.
“The central government, [the] provincial government, directors general, [the] home affairs minister said they would settle it before Christmas,” Jayadi told a forum in Jakarta on Friday.
Jayadi said that during the ordeal he had heard many “lies” — promises from the central and provincial governments that fail to materialize. “Why are they doing [this] to GKI Yasmin followers? What did they do wrong to be treated like [this]? Nobody could give an answer,” he said.
Jayadi criticized the police and law enforcers who failed to protect religious freedom. “If [you] cannot settle it, then get mediation. If it’s still not settled, then take it to court.
“Many reports to the police were not followed up. Legal processes in other places also don’t run well,” he added.
Jayadi said that he and other Yasmin Church followers did not want religiously intolerant people to be punished severely, but that they wanted justice to be served.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Anshor, the human rights director at the Home Affairs Ministry, described the case as multidimensional, involving not only the law enforcement apparatus but also sociology, politics and religion.
“Everyone must look at it realistically and pragmatically. Who is it that’s been stirring it up, the locals or people from the outside? How should the process go, how should it be solved and which aspect can strengthen it?” Anshor asked.
He lamented the fact that many people had drawn conclusions about the case without fully understanding it.
“Let’s think about what we can contribute to offer solutions and our thoughts,” he said.
“Everyone has an interest, it’s no longer black or white now. Everyone must take a realistic and pragmatic approach to it.”
The case has drawn widespread condemnation, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled that the church closure was illegal and ordered it reopened. However, the Bogor authorities and the central government have refused to enforce the ruling by the country’s highest court.