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Church official demands justice for minorities

Action needed in Indonesia to address ’discriminatory bylaws, persecution’

A Catholic chapel in Indonesia, after it was reduced to rubble by attackers (File photo) A Catholic chapel in Indonesia, after it was reduced to rubble by attackers (File photo)
  • Windy Subanto, Padang
  • Indonesia
  • February 2, 2011
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The vicar general of Padang diocese, in West Sumatra says action is needed to get justice and force a rethink on recent bylaws that can “lead to discrimination” against minority groups.

“Constitutional rule should regulate all citizens, not only a certain group of people,” Father Philips Rusihan Sakti said.

He was addressing 40 religious and local leaders as well as scholars representing minority groups at a Jan. 31 meeting organized in Padang by the Communication Forum of Chinese Indonesians’ Community.

“This province’s government has issued many laws which only regulate a certain group of people. Bylaws emphasizing Koran literacy, the wearing of Muslim attire, and contributing to those in need are examples,” he continued.

The parish priest of St. Barbara Church in Sawahlunto also said the state has failed to guarantee its citizens freedom to practice their religions.

“Catholics near my parish’s mission station are not allowed to build a church so they have to use a hall belonging to the military for prayer meetings,” he said.

Elsewhere, a chapel belonging to a mission station was burned down by a mob while security forces did nothing,” he continued.

He called on minority groups to take action to prevent injustices continuing.
“We must find a way of making those being oppressed heard. I know the risk is high. We must be ready to spend time, energy even money … and risk the hatred of those angered [by our efforts],” he said.

Meanwhile, the forum’s chairman, Valentinus Gunawan, said the event aimed at establishing a medium through which people can protest against discrimination and human rights violations.

“So far, people are afraid of protesting. If they are brave enough, they do not know how to go about it,” he said.

Related report
Indonesian Christians promised freedom

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