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 Bogor church seeks police protection for Christmas

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BerichtOnderwerp: Bogor church seeks police protection for Christmas    do 18 dec 2014 - 20:47

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta,Thursday December 18 2014,

The congregation of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin requested on Wednesday that the National Police protect them from potential disturbances and threats on Christmas Day this year.

“We have come to ask the National Police to protect us so that we can celebrate Christmas peacefully this year,” GKI Yasmin lawyer Jayadi Damanik said at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

Jayadi explained that police protection was necessary because there were many groups that did not want them to celebrate Christmas and had prevented churchgoers from using the half-finished GKI Yasmin church in Bogor as a place of worship.

In 2008, the Supreme Court rejected a request from the Bogor City Planning and Parks Agency to revoke the church’s building permit (IMB) due to objections from residents. This ruling was upheld by the Court two years later.

However, the Bogor administration — then under Diani Budiarto — still refused to issue a permit for the building and sealed off the church.

“The police force can take preventative measures [to make sure Christmas mass runs smoothly] and act with a firm hand when needed, that’s all we want. There are still many groups that do not feel safe celebrating Christmas openly, such as the Batak Protestant Church [HKBP] Filadelfia in Bekasi [West Java],” he said.

In 2011, the Bekasi municipal administration sealed off HKBP Filadelfia church after local residents objected to its construction.

Although the Bandung State Administrative Court ruled in favor of the church’s right to exist, the administration has still not reopened the site.

Currently, GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia hold Sunday services every two weeks in front of the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta as a means of protest.

Jayadi said he hoped that this year’s Christmas and New Year festivities would be different and the worshippers would remain safe during their holy day.

“We would like to conduct services on our own land. When can we stop conducting services outside the Presidential Palace?” he said.

Jayadi added that the police recommended that GKI Yasmin also send a letter to their local police precinct to remind them of their obligations to protect civilians.

Separately, National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto told reporters that the police were ready to secure this year’s Christmas and New Year festivities.

“There will be a total of 145,756 officers from the police, military and other institutions deployed to secure the festivities from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2,” he said.

Agus explained that the National Police would deploy 80,560 officers, almost 1,000 fewer than last year.

The police are prioritizing 12 provinces — including Java, North Sumatra, Papua and Central Sulawesi — for protection because they have a larger number of Christians.

“We will prioritize places of worship and places where people gather to celebrate. However, recreational areas — especially on New Year’s Eve — will also be an important focus. We believe that these kinds of places are vulnerable to possible terrorist attacks,” Agus said.

National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti also said that the Densus 88 counterterrorism unit would be especially alert during the festivities to prevent any terrorist actions.

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