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Published on The Jakarta Post (
Depok mayor sued for annulling church permit
Yuli Tri Suwarni        ,                               The Jakarta Post        
,               Bandung                   |  Thu, 05/07/2009 2:29 PM  |  
Members of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) congregation in
Depok decided Wednesday to sue Depok Mayor Nurmahmudi Ismail for
revoking a building permit for a church in Cinere, Depok. 
Dozens of HKBP members, represented by lawyer Junimart Girsang, filed a
lawsuit at the State Administrative Court in Bandung appealing to the
court to cancel a Depok municipal ordinance on the revocation on March
27, 2009, of a building permit for a church and a multipurpose hall
under the name of HKBP Pangkalan Jati Gandul on Jl. Pesanggrahan in
Junimart said the mayor's ordinance lacked strong legal basis and went against 
the principle of freedom of worship. 
He added his clients had obtained a building permit issued by the Bogor
regent on June 13, 1998, which served as a legal basis to start
building the church and hall from October 1998. 
"By January 2009, they had already completed the foundation, the ground
floor and columns for the second floor, before construction was halted
due to the issuance of the mayor's decree against the building permit,"
Junimart said in Bandung. 
He added opposition by the majority Muslim residents in the area the
church was being built could not serve as a valid reason for the mayor
to issue the "one-sided decision". 
He insisted the church and hall construction complied with Law No.
28/2002 on Buildings, and Government Regulation No. 36/2005 and Depok
Municipal Ordinance No. 3/2006 on Buildings and Building Permit Fees. 
"We regret the mayor's action, which goes against basic human rights as
stipulated in Article 22 of Law No. 39/1999, which guarantees freedom
for anyone to choose a religion and pray according to their faith,"
Junimart said. 
"The construction work has been halted temporarily because of the decision." 
He added the congregation had tried to meet with the Depok mayor prior
to filing the lawsuit, but had not met with a serious response. 
The plaintiffs also asked the court for a temporary ruling by
postponing the implementation of the municipal decree until the State
Administrative Court had issued a definite ruling. 
A series of attacks on churches broke out in West Java several years
ago, hammering home the reality of suppression of religious freedom in
predominantly Muslim Indonesia. 
The number of churches forcibly closed in West Java alone was reported
to be more than 30 in the period between September 2004 and April 2007. 
Dozens of other churches were also forced to close down in other provinces 
across the country during the same period. 
Under a revised joint decree issued by Religious Affairs Minister
Maftuh Basyuni, the establishment of a house of worship must be
approved by at least 60 local residents and have a minimum congregation
size of 90 people. 
Copyright © 2008 The Jakarta Post - PT Bina Media Tenggara. All Rights 
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