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 Bekasi Pastor Charged With Assaulting Member of Intolerant Group

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BerichtOnderwerp: Bekasi Pastor Charged With Assaulting Member of Intolerant Group   Bekasi Pastor Charged With Assaulting Member of Intolerant Group Icon_minitimewo 13 maa 2013 - 6:29

The Jakarta Globe, March 13, 2013,

Bekasi police have charged a local pastor for allegedly assaulting a member of an intolerant group on Christmas Eve last year.

“I got the letter summoning me as suspect yesterday,” HKBP Filadelfia pastor Palti Panjaitan, told Jakarta Globe on Wednesday. “I’m charged with article 352 and 335 of the criminal code on assault and unpleasant conduct.”

Palti said that on Dec. 24, 2012, he felt threatened when Abdul Aziz, a religious figure in Jejalen village in Bekasi, approached him in Bekasi near Palti’s church.

“He was about to attack me,” Palti said. “I went off the motorcycle to maintain my safety. He approached me and I held him with my hands. Police separated us, and there was no problem afterward. If I hit his chest as [Abdul has] reported to the police, I would have been detained that night. The Bekasi police chief was there, and many police officers.”

Palti said that Abdul is a member of an extremist Muslim group in the area, and that Abdul had previously intimidated him in a separate altercation. Palti filed a report to the police on Apr. 20, 2012, which said that Abdul was threatening to kill him.

“The dossier [for the case] has been completed at the prosecutor’s office,” Palti said. “The police probably want to make [a case against me to] balance [the upcoming case against Abdul]. As Abdul’s case will soon go to court, they’ll force this case to go to court as well. I can see that the police are afraid so they victimize me by naming me as a suspect in order to prevent backlash from the intolerant group.”

The secretary of the Indonesian Church Union (PGI) Reverend Gomar Gultom told Jakarta Globe that the state and the police failed to be neutral on Palti’s case.

“The allegation was fabricated,” Gomar said. “What really happened was the congregation members were about to conduct a service, but there was mass provoked to prevent the service. We wonder why such allegations were quickly responded by police, but [church] services disturbed by intolerant group were left unprotected.”

A similar case happened in embattled GKI Yasmin, a Protestant church in Bogor. A church member named Jayadi Damanik was charged with assaulting the head of the Bogor public order agency (Satpol PP), Bambang Budiyanto, in October 2011. Bambang later revoked his report.

Prior to the case, Bambang was reported to the police by GKI Yasmin officials for preventing people from worshipping.

“What happened with Pastor Palti is a pattern of state terror against the victims by the police,” Bona Sigalingging, GKI Yasmin spokesman, told Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

The GKI Yasmin congregation has been locked out of its church since 2008 by the municipal authorities, in direct violation of two Supreme Court rulings and an order by the Indonesian Ombudsman to allow them back in.

Bogor officials’ initial pretext for revoking the church’s permit was that the signatures required to obtain it were fake. It now says that its refusal to abide by the rulings of the highest court in the land is based on residents’ opposition to the church.

The HKBP Filadelfia congregation is the victim of a similar injustice. Since 2007, members have been forced to worship on the street outside the church in Bekasi as district authorities continue to deny the church a permit.

“By naming Palti a suspect, police show that they’re not siding with the court’s ruling that is legally binding, but siding with the siding with pressure from the intolerant group,” Bona said.

PGI’s Gomar said beside Jayadi and Palti, there is also another case in Bandung, in which a pastor named Bernard Maukar was arrested for conducting services in a building without a permit.

“I can see the future scenario is the state being used by intolerant group to criminalize people who want to perform religious worship,” Gomar said. “In my opinion, this is very dangerous. I will ask the government, especially the president, to see this problem.”

Palti could face more than a year in prison if he is found guilty of the charges against him.

“The first questioning is on Wednesday, March 20, at 10 a.m.,” Palti said.

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