(Voice of the Persecuted) Over the last few days, Indonesian Christians under extreme pressure have been sharing reports, photos, videos and their prayers with Voice of the Persecuted. Tensions are high among the Christian communities in Indonesia as radical Muslims burn down their churches and government authorities tear down their places of worship.
In 2006, the controversial Joint Rules set by the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 8 and No. 9, demands states churches cannot be built without providing authorities with a list of names and signatures of 90 congregation members along with written support from at least 60 local residents and a village chief.
This has made it nearly impossible, if at all, for religious minorities to collect the signatures of 60 people required for the permit, particularly if the signatures are needed from citizens whose religion differs from their own.
‘Houses of worship’ are the most visible symbol of a religion and the oppressive government regulations on places of worship have been used to target followers of minority religions, including Christians. Believers relayed to Voice of the Persecuted that many of the Mosques are without permit/license, but those cases are overlooked.
Despite growing intolerance and escalating persecution in the world’s largest Muslim-populated nation, the Church in Indonesia continues to grow.
The province of Aceh is located at the northern end of Sumatra and the only region in Indonesia where Sharia law is officially authorized. Religious tension has been brewing there for months.
A radical Muslim youth group, Aceh Youth Concerned for Islam held protests demanding alleged unlicensed churches be torn down by authorities. Many believe the government’s decision to destroy ten Christian churches came by pressure of Muslim fundamentalists. But Impatiently, Muslim extremists took actions into their own hands and instigated mob violence to destroy Christian buildings and threaten Indonesian believers. Police were deployed but unable to stop the violence as one authority reported they were outnumbered by a mob of 500-800 strong.
When hatred flared, more than 5000 Christians fled their communities and were displaced as internal refugees.
The chronology of attacks and burning of churches by radicals in the district of Aceh Singkil, continued with the demolition of churches carried out by the Government Aceh Singkil by unjustly using SKB 2 menteri ( A decree between minister of religious affair and minister of home affairs in 2006) No. 8 in 2006 on the establishment of House of worship and the 2007 Governor of Aceh regulation No. 25 regarding the establishment Houses of worship.
SKB 2 menteri No. 8, No. 9 and regulation No. 25 applied to the places of worship built after the policies were confirmed. Referring to the history of established churches in Aceh Singkil, the majority stood prior to both regulations.
In translation means…if Houses of Worship were built before 2006 or have historical values and do not have a permit, the local government must help them to obtain the permit. There is no wording in the regulation that the government is authorized to destroy those Houses of Worship.
• August 18 2015, GKPPD Mandumpang was burned by unknown person at Aceh singkil
• Tuesday, October 13th , Hki Church was burned by radical groups At Aceh Singkil * Friday, October 16th , GPIB church was burned by unknown people at Sabang Aceh
• Tuesday, October 19, 2015 at 10:00 held the destruction of church GKPPD Siompin church, GMII Siompin church and Catholic Mandumpang church. ( 3 churches)
• October 20, 2015, The distruction of churches continued, and 2 churches had been demolished: the Church GKPPD Kuta Tinggi church, and GKPPD Tuhtuhen ( 2 churches)
• October 22, 2015, The destruction of the GKPPD Siatas Church and GKPP Sanggaberru Church ( 3 churches)
• The government still has plans to destroy the 2 other churches also in the district of Aceh Singkil.
The following data shows the establishment of churches in Aceh Singkil.
1. GKPPD Kuta Kerangan church , di Kuta Kerangan Village, est. 1932.
2. GKPPD Siatas church in Pertabas est. 1942.
3. GKPPD Kuta Tinggi Church in Kuta Tinggi est. 1943.
4. GKPPD Tuhtuhen church in Tuhtuhen village was established in1948.
5. GKPPD Lae Gecih church in Lae Gecih village est. 1967.
6. GKPPD Mandumpang church in Mandumpang village est. 1950.
7. GKPPD Siompin church in Siompin village est. 1964.
8. GKPPD Keras church in Keras Village est. 1952.
9. GKPPD Guha churchin Guha village was est. 1947.
10. GKPPD Gunung Meriah church in Gunung Meriah village est. 1960
11. GKPPD Sanggaberru church in Sanggaberru village est. 1962.
12. GKPPD Daling Dangguren church in Dangguren village est. 1995.
13. GKPPD Biskang church in Napagaluh village est. 1953.
14. GKPPD Situbuhtubuh in Situbuhtubuh village est. 1989.
15. GMII Siompin church in Siompin village est. 1995.
16. GMII Mandumpang church in Mandumpang village est. 2000.
17. JKI Kuta Kerangan church di Desa Kuta Kerangan Kecamatan Simpang Kanan est. 2003.
18. HKI Gunung Meriah church in Sukamakmur village est. 1968.
19. Catholic church Gunung Meriah in Sukamakmur village est. 1963.
20. Catholic church Lae Mbalno est. 1993.
Based on chronology of the attack that occurred on October 13, 2015 and data in establishing the churches in the district of Aceh Singkil, the GKPPD Church Leaders and NGO’s concerned with freedom of religion, faith, mentoring, advocacy and education in Aceh Singkil hold that:
1.The action of attacking and burning HKI church by radical groups in Aceh Singkil on October 13, 2015 and where the State has participated in facilitating that action through its inability to prevent and crack down on Islamic groups that carried out the attack, expanding affecting conflict area that led to the victims having been displaced out of Aceh Singkil is a violation of Human Rights.
2. Restrictions on the churches in Aceh Singkil is contrary to the Constitution amendment in 1945 Article 29 verse 2 that states that the country to ensure freedom of all citizens to embrace their faith of choice.
On October 24th, The Vice Governor of Aceh said, “The tragedy/conflict of Aceh Singkil is not a big problem/a reasonable thing.” Hearing this, one Christian shared, “Oh my, what kind of leader does Aceh have nowadays? He must be educated about Indonesia’s Laws, the Constitution and Pancasila (five principles).
Messages from our Indonesian brothers and sisters
• I don’t know why they have cruel hearts, but we know our Dear Lord Jesus sees all.
• The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord for the harvest and to provide them with the reapers.
• Unity in diversity is torn to shreds.
• May the Lord Jesus give the best ways to Christians friends in Aceh, they still believe God is not asleep..God is watching all.
Where is the voice of the media?
We only want freedom in our own land, free from discrimination and religious freedom.
Pray for Aceh Singkil
Anxiety and fear, our grief has not passed, the tears have not dried. Who will hear our pleas for Justice.
Goodbye My Church
The church that we have built with great difficulty, the church that we have built with our sweat and tears, now memories that have been flattened.
Word of God, “You will be hated for My Name”
My friends, stay strong, joyful, still rely on the Lord. Do not let our faith also collapsed and be flattened, but stay strong growing in faith. No need to be angry, abuse, or kill. God never taught this way to us. The teachings of the Lord, is teaching us…love others, even love your enemies. Remain patient, God never sleeps. We can always reach out for His hand. There are BEAUTIFUL plans HE will provide for us.
Voice of the Persecuted received this touching letter by a young Christian sister sharing from her heart after she saw the pictures and people who had burned some of the churches in Aceh Singkil.
WHAT’S WRONG THE CHURCH?
The people of Indonesia should be taught and often read the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, Chapter XI about Religion Article 29 :
(1) The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.
(2) The State guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own religion or belief.
Friends, you can burn our churches because they are only buildings.
Friends, you can destroy our churches because the churches are merely stone, sand, cement, and arranged wood. We only call these buildings churches.
You can burn our churches, because theses buildings are not our Lord.
Friends, you can flatten our churches to the ground, because we are not worshiping church.
You can burn our churches because the churches are only places where we gather as people who believe in our God.
Friends, you can burn and flatten our places of worship, but not our faith nor our belief in our God.
Will we avenge your cruel actions? We will not do that, friend.
Will we cuss you and say you are perverted? You will not hear this from us.
Behold, we are only minorities, Christian people trying to defend our faith and trust. We won’t avenge the cruel actions you have done, because that’s not what our God has taught us. But this is what we will do. We will fold our hands and pray to God, so that HE will forgive you, friends.
You can burn our churches, but it will not hinder our trust in the Lord.
But friends, may I ask this question to all of you who have burned our church buildings?
What is wrong with the churches?
May I ask what is wrong with our religion, friends? If our religion is different than yours, why we can’t we build our own places of worship in our country, Indonesia?
What’s so wrong that our religion is different from the majority of people of Indonesia? Doesn’t the State of Indonesia according to the CONSTITUTION of 1945 article 29 paragraph 2, ”GUARANTEES ALL PERSONS THE FREEDOM OF WORSHIP, each according to his/her own religion or belief”?
Thank you, friends for the churches which you have chosen to burn. What you have done has made us stronger in our faith and even more trusting in our Lord.
MAY THE LORD FORGIVE YOU BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING.
The recent number of attacks on religious communities has impelled the Indonesian government to reexamine the controversial 2006 joint ministerial decree on establishing houses of worship.
ANTARA News quoted Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo as saying, “My office and the Religious Affairs Ministry are seeking to amend our decree on building houses of worship so that everyone will show respect when a religious community is setting up their holy place.”
Indonesia’s national motto is “unity in diversity”. The Government of Indonesia must act swiftly to revise this decree, an initiator of tension and abuse among Indonesia’s religious communities. A mandate to protect the entire community with freedom of worship without fear must be put in place throughout the nation, including the province of Aceh, without exception.
We pray for Indonesia as our brothers and sisters fear the pressure and intolerance Christians now face in Aceh may very well spread across the nation. They’re also concerned that the influx of Muslim refugees may fuel further intolerance. Some tell us the nation’s claim of religious harmony is merely for show, a decoration.
Dear brothers and sisters, though you may be on the other side of the globe, we suffer with you and will keep you close in our hearts and prayers. We rejoice and thank God for you. Hold on, there is hope…the Lord is with you.
Mazmur 59:16 (59-17) Tetapi aku mau menyanyikan kekuatan-Mu, pada waktu pagi aku mau bersorak-sorai karena kasih setia-Mu; sebab Engkau telah menjadi kota bentengku, tempat pelarianku pada waktu kesesakanku. (Psalm 59:16)
Father, protect them in this land and help them to respond in Your will. We pray the Church and their faith will continue to grow as they endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel. We ask as they turn their eyes towards the Lord and that God’s Holy presence will be felt among them. May they unite as One in the Body of Christ and be strengthened beyond measure. Father, we ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
They’re also asking that we stand with them by signing the petition below addressed to the President in Indonesia. Grateful for your help and say, “Thank you!”
The petition translated:
The minority religion places were regulated by 2 of our ministers from previous government-the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 9 and No. 8 of 2006, in which the regulation should require no ID card of 90 church members and 60 ID Cards from local community approval.
Regulatory clause that mentions “local community support at least 60 people” makes discriminatory for religious minorities in the region.
It Is really not easy to collect the signatures of 60 people to get a permit the establishment of houses of worship, especially if the required signatures of citizens whose religion is different with those who will build a house of worship.
Now, a lot of violence, closures, and arson by anarchist groups for reasons not meet the approval of 60 people.
Violence of this kind, will make hostility among Indonesian citizens at many places, crime, and erode our sense of nationhood. Imagine this country will be fragmented and disappearing sense of tolerance we are as the nation.
Indonesia should not be grouped based on the majority and the minority religion, where it will actually make it disintegrate our nation, and become brittle.
States should ensure that every citizen can worship wherever they are throughout Indonesia.
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