INDONESIA – CHURCH CLOSURE CALLED UNCONSTITUTIONAL AT HEARING

(Compass Direct News) – In a hearing in its lawsuit against a local government, a representative for a church that Bekasi, West Java officials summarily closed earlier this year told an administrative court that the action was unconstitutional. The Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Filadelfia Church filed a lawsuit on March 30 against the local government for its Jan. 12 sealing of the building under construction. At a court hearing on June 2, the coordinator of the litigation team, Thomas Tampubolon, explained that the regent’s decree of Dec. 31, 2009 to seal the building conflicted with Indonesia’s 1945 constitution. He said the decree violated Article 28 of the constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion, and Article 29, which guarantees freedom of worship, as well as Law No. 39 (1999) concerning human rights. Deddy Rohendi, a member of the regency defense team, replied that Tampubolon’s claims were false, and he requested that the court dismiss the suit. As the judges are considering the HKBP Filadelfia’s case, they are expected to travel to the village to interview citizens about the church building. A member of the legal team who is also a member of the church, Parasian Hutasoit, said that the Filadelfia congregation was upset with the Department of Religion and the Interfaith Harmony Forum because neither had acted upon the request for permission to build which was submitted on April 2, 2008. “Our application has not been acted upon, and suddenly our church is sealed without clear reason,” he said.

 

 

 

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