The Asian Human Rights Commission called on Bekasi district Chief Neneng Hasanah Yasin to safeguard religious freedom and to enforce the law following several cases of assault, violence and intimidation against the Congregation of Batak Protestant Churches (HKBP) Filadelfia parish.
In an open letter to Neneng, the AHRC urged the district chief, who was inaugurated on May 14, to protect her constituents.
“We are sending this letter to draw your attention on the matter of freedom of religion in Bekasi, as the previous district chief has failed to take steps that are in line with the law and human rights principles in overcoming the matter,” Wong Kai Shing, the executive director of Hong Kong-based AHRC, said.
Wong summarized his concerns over the intimidation, threats and attacks against the HKBP Filadelfia church in Jejalen Raya village in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta. The most recent attack was on May 20, when several residents threw stones, bags of urine and rotten eggs at members of the church’s congregation. Reverend Palti Panjaitan from the church also reported a death threat made against him to the National Police.
“AHRC deplores that the government of the Bekasi district has not yet taken steps in line with the law and human rights to overcome this problem,” Wong said in the letter.
Wong also expressed his regret that the Bekasi district government under the previous chief had worsened the conflict by refusing to issue a permit for the congregation to build their church. The previous district chief, Sa’duddin, had also refused to abide by the verdicts of the West Java state administrative court and the Supreme Court, both of whom approved the church.
“We hope that you, as the new Bekasi district head, can offer changes and settle this case in line with the law and human rights. You and your regional apparatus have the obligation to uphold the law, including the verdicts of the state administrative court and the Supreme Court,” the letter said.
Wong also called on Neneng not to get involved or to take part in activities that curbed the church congregation’s right to worship on their land.
The AHRC is a regional non-governmental organization that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform.