0 Tensions escalate at Bogor church as PKS joins fray

Members of the Taman Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) congregation were again prevented from holding mass as police officers and soldiers blocked access to their sealed church building on Sunday.

More than 600 Bogor Police officers and soldiers from a nearby Indonesian Military base were stationed near the church along Jl. Abdullah bin Nuh since early Sunday in anticipation of protests from groups supporting and opposing the re-opening of the church.

“The road closure is to prevent those two groups from going at each other,” Bogor City Police deputy chief Comr. Irwansyah told reporters.
The roadblock was lifted at around 9 a.m. when protesters started to disperse.

A group calling itself the Indonesian Muslim Communications Forum (Forkammi) called on the GKI Yasmin congregation to stop holding services in the area, which it said threatened security.

Meanwhile, another group, the Peace-Loving Bogor Community Forum, called for a peaceful resolution to the standoff, saying that both sides should maintain order.
Separately, the political battle over GKI Yasmin entered a new phase when the local Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) branch openly supported Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto’s decision to close the church.

The local branch issued a statement echoing Diani’s previous comments that said the church closure was a legal dispute that had nothing to do with religious discrimination.

Yusuf Dardiri, the secretary of the PKS’ Bogor branch, said Diani was actually abiding by a Supreme Court decision that ordered the church reopened.

Yusuf said that the administration later found that GKI Yasmin had allegedly forged the signatures of local residents on a petition supporting construction of the church. “The individual who forged the signature, Munir Karta, has been sentenced to three months in prison for committing the crime. We stand by this verdict, which is final and binding,” Yusuf, a front-runner in Bogor’s mayoral election in 2013, said.

The document forgery was enough for the city to again revoke the building permit of GKI Yasmin, Yusuf said.
GKI Yasmin spokesperson Bona Sigalingging said that the PKS was being deliberately deceptive.
“They’re lying if they say that the Munir Karta case is final and binding. He has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court,” Bona said.
The Indonesian Ombudsman’s office has denied the claims of forgery.

Meanwhile, other political parties have been distancing themselves from Diani for his intransigence over the GKI Yasmin issue and have started a motion that could result in his ouster.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said that it had revoked its support of Diani, while senior Golkar Party members have said that its local branch have proposed an interpellation motion against Diani to review his official conduct.

Pressure continued to increase on Diani over the weekend as Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation chief Todung Mulya Lubis said the foundation had asked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene in the case.

“[Yudhoyono] has been successful in stewarding the democratic transition and promoting human rights issue. But a contradiction has taken place that could tarnish his achievement in human rights issue. One of those contradictions is the GKI Yasmin problem,” he said, as quoted by tempointeraktif.com.

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