May 23, 2010
Bogor, Bekasi Churchgoers Still Locked Out of Worship
For yet another Sunday, two congregations in Bogor and Bekasi had to hold Mass
on the street in the absence of local permits to use their churches.
"The Bogor administration has not removed the seal from the church door. This
is the fourth time we have had to hold prayers outside," Jayadi Demanik, a
member of the GKI Yasmin congregation, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.
He also said that nearly 100 Bogor Police officers had come to the location to
"secure the area."
"It was different from the last time they came. They said they did not come to
prevent us from praying, but instead told us that they wanted to keep the area
safe in case there's an attack," he said.
Jayadi said that on Saturday, Bogor Police Adj. Comr. Irwansyah called a member
of the congregation and told him to cancel the Mass. "Nobody should prevent
anyone from praying," Jayadi said.
Irwansyah declined to comment on the matter.
He said that the last time they tried to hold a service, officers from the
public order agency, or Satpol PP, tried to stop them from praying on the
In February 2008 the Bogor administration suspended the church's permit after a
group of people calling themselves the Communication Forum for Indonesian
Muslims (Forkami) protested in front of the Bogor Legislative Council. The city
placed an administrative seal on the church notifying the public of the
suspended license, but worshipers were still able to pray there. Last month,
the city locked the church doors.
Despite three administrative court rulings in Jakarta and Bandung favored the
church, the seal has not been removed.
Members of HKBP Filadelfia face a similar obstacle in Bekasi. They waited two
years for a permit to build a church, only to be told by the city
administration in December that they could not conduct worship at the church's
"We are still holding our prayers on the street," the Rev. Palti Panjaitan
The plot of land where the church was to be built contains a temporary chapel
made of plywood and covered by a tarp.
"[The Bekasi authorities] cited the law governing homes and other structures,
not on religious activities," Palti said.
He said that his church had also received threats from Forkami, which had
staged noisy protests outside the proposed church site twice in 2008 and 2009.
The members of the church are currently waiting for their case to be heard at
the State Administration Court (PTUN), where a secretary told the church's
lawyer, Parasian Hutasoit, that the hearing would likely be held on Thursday or
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