Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Islamist parties demanded on Wednesday that the government ignore a Supreme Court ruling to unseal the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor, forcing the legislature to water down its already irresolute recommendation on ending the long-running dispute.
At a meeting with government officials to discuss the impasse over the beleaguered GKI Yasmin congregation, lawmakers from the United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) argued that the final recommendation should not cite the Supreme Court’s order to reinstate the church’s permit.
Stripped of that clause, the legislature’s recommendation contained no actionable steps, merely reiterating a call for the Bogor administration and the central government to “immediately resolve” the dispute that has forced the church’s congregation to hold services on the street or in parishioners’ homes since 2008.
Hazrul Azwar, the PPP chairman at the House of Representatives, insisted it would be unfair to include the Supreme Court’s ruling and omit another from the Bogor District Court, which ordered the revocation of the church’s permit for alleged administrative violations.
“If the Supreme Court ruling is cited, then so, too, should the Bogor District Court ruling,” Hazrul said.
The objection was protested by several legislators including Aziz Syamsuddin from the Golkar Party, who pointed out that the Supreme Court ruling carries more weight than that of any lower court.
Golkar lawmakers Agun Gunanjar Sudarsa and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama also said the higher ruling went along with the nation’s pluralist ideals, but Hazrul said all parties had agreed earlier not to touch on that point.
“We already agreed earlier during the lobbying that no one would bring up the Supreme Court ruling,” Hazrul protested. “So why is it now being included in the recommendation?”
In the end, House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung, who chaired the meeting, said no mention of the ruling would be made in the final recommendation.
The Supreme Court ruling, issued in 2010, should have ended discrimination against the church, but Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto has refused to comply.
Representatives from the church were also barred from participating in the meeting on Wednesday, instead being banished to the spectators’ gallery.
The meeting, Pramono said, was between the House and the government, and it was not open to those involved in the dispute.
Bona Sigalingging, a spokesman for the congregation, said he was disappointed with the proceedings.
“We’ve been summoned to attend this meeting three times before, but each time it was canceled,” he said. “Now that it’s finally happening, we’ve been sent away.”
Among those at the meeting was Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, who claimed he and Diani “respect the Supreme Court’s ruling.”