Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Rights groups condemn intolerance
New Bekasi district head urged to allow Protestants to worship freely
- ucanews.com reporters, Jakarta and London
- May 22, 2012
In an open letter yesterday to Neneng Hasanah Yasin, who was installed as district head of Bekasi on May 14, Hong Kong-based AHRC said it was time to allow the Batak Society Christian Church (HKBP) of Philadelphia to worship freely in the predominantly Muslim area.
â€śWe are writing this letter to bring your attention to the issue of freedom of religion in Bekasi, which the previous district head and local authorities failed to take action on in accordance with the law and human rights principles,â€ť said Wong Kai Shing, AHRCâ€™s executive director.
The former administration in Bekasi had stalled on issuing a permit to build a church in Jejalen Raya Village even though the Supreme Court in Jakarta ruled last year that religious services showed be allowed on the site.
Last Thursday, a group of Muslims threw stones and urine at the Protestants as they tried to hold a service to celebrate Ascension Day at their half-built church.
â€śThe AHRC regrets the fact that Bekasi local authorities have not taken adequate measures in accordance with the law and human rights to deal with this matter,â€ť said Wong. â€śIn fact, we regret that Bekasi local government has contributed to the problem by allowing the conflict to continue.â€ť
Muslim leaders in the area say that the Protestant groupâ€™s application to build a place of worship in Jejalen Raya Village, which according to Indonesian law requires signed backing from residents, was fraudulent.
Muslims in the area accuse HKBP of Philadelphia of encouraging local residents to sign blank petitions, enlisting the support of the dead and offering 200,000 rupees (US$22) per signature, the Jakarta Globe reported on Saturday.
HKBP of Philadelphia is still waiting for a permit to complete construction of the church despite the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision last year which effectively ruled that the petition was valid.
CSW, which saw an earlier confrontation in Bekasi first-hand as part of a 10-day fact-finding mission to Indonesia, said yesterday that the rise of religious intolerance was the direct result of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonoâ€™s failure to stand up to radical Muslims.
Citing numerous cases of worsening standards of religious freedom, including the closure of 17 churches in Aceh province since the election last month of Governor Zaini Abdullah, CSW said human rights groups, media and foreign diplomats had expressed deep concern.
Indonesia faces a hearing of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review this week, a process under which the UN monitors human rights and repression in various countries.
â€śWe urge UN member states to deliver some clear messages to Indonesia that its proud tradition of moderate Islam and pluralism is under threat,â€ť said Andrew Johnston, CSWâ€™s advocacy director.
Church attacked with stones, urine: pastor
Group warns of threat to charter