Embattled Indonesian Church Must Relocate Despite Supreme Court Support
(Editor's note: Morningstar News offers an updated report on the church's situation.)
Taman Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) legally acquired permission to build a church in Bogor in 2006 but has been shuttered for years due to opposition from neighboring Muslim extremists. The Constitutional Court, the archipelago's equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in 2011 that the church be allowed to occupy its building. The mayor of Bogor refused to comply.
The government's recent decision came after a closed-door meeting between the Indonesian Minister of Internal Affairs and Bogor city leaders excluded GKI Yasmin church representatives but did include representatives from a local Muslim extremist group. According to ministry spokesman Reydonnyzar Moenek, the government is preparing replacement land for the church.
GKI Yasmin is rejecting the decision because it says it possesses all of the legal building permits – as well as support from Indonesia's supreme court. According to GKI Yasmin spokesperson Bona Sigalingging, the church's relocation would suggest the rule of law in Indonesia has collapsed.
"No matter where, no matter how expensive or beautiful the new location, we will not accept," he said.
According to Asia News, the government's statement emphasizes that it does not view this issue as a matter of religious freedom, but as "an ordinary matter between the mayor and its citizens."
However, international human rights organizations disagree with that assessment and have decried the government's decision. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, "The relocation of GKI Yasmin is not anywhere near a solution, let alone one that benefits everyone. Bogor local government has taken the position of being non-tolerance which is not beneficial to the persecuted religious minority, that is, the Christians belonging to GKI Yasmin."
In response, GKI Yasmin is reporting local Bogor police to the Indonesian Ombudsman for ignoring the church's complaints.