Persecuted Indonesian church protests in front of presidential palace *Baghdad church siege convicts sentenced to death

February 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Indonesia, newsletter-world, Persecution, World

Indonesian Christian WomenIndonesia, February 08, 2012: Hundreds of members of a besieged Indonesian church staged a protest and held their Sunday service in front of the country’s presidential palace, calling on the president to uphold their rights.

GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor has been under intense persecution from the city mayor and militant Muslims, who have repeatedly blocked them from holding services at their site.

On 29 January, the congregation demonstrated in front of the presidential palace in the capital, Jakarta. They called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop the acts of discrimination and intimidation against them.

Church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said:

We came here so that the top leader of the country may help solve this problem, for love of the rule of law and the defence of diversity in Indonesia.

The church’s half-constructed building has been illegally sealed off by city chiefs since 2008, forcing the congregation to hold services on the street. Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto has refused to comply with an order by the Supreme Court in December 2010, and subsequent ruling by the Ombudsman Commission, that the church be reopened. He has used various ploys to prevent the church from gathering publicly, an effort that has been backed by radical Islamists, who have staged repeated protests against the church.

In January, Islamists and public officials tried twice to prevent the church’s Sunday service from taking place. Mr Sigalingging said:

The mayor of Bogor informed us that we could not conduct celebrations on our church’s land or near it. This is a form of intimidation.

In a separate development, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has sent a letter to the Indonesian government raising concerns about its handling of cases of religious discrimination, including the GKI Yasmin church blockade. The letter calls on the government to take action immediately in accordance with international human rights standards.

But according to Indonesia’s Human Rights Working Group, there has been no response from Jakarta thus far.

– barnabas team

Baghdad church siege convicts sentenced to death


Iraq ChurchIraq, February 08, 2012: Three men convicted of the 2010 siege on a Baghdad church in which over 50 people were killed have been sentenced to death.

Iraq’s highest court ratified the penalty on Thursday 2 February. Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, said:

There are three convicted criminals. All of them are Iraqis and they were convicted based on the terrorism law.

The sentence is final and it will be sent to the presidency to issue a decree to the Justice Ministry to execute it.

On 31 October 2010 armed militants took around 100 worshippers hostage during an evening service at the Baghdad church. Over 50 hostages and police were killed and more than 60 people injured in the attack, which ended when security forces stormed the building.

Twelve suspects were arrested at the end of November 2010 in connection with the incident. One of the alleged leaders, Huthaifa al-Batawi, known as al-Qaeda’s “Emir of Baghdad”, was killed in an attempted jailbreak last May.

The al-Qaeda affiliated group, Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the bloodiest recorded assault on Iraqi Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion.

The hostage siege and subsequent violence prompted another exodus of Iraqi Christians from the capital, with hundreds of families fleeing to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Christians have been targeted with violence in Iraq since the Gulf War of 1990-91, when they became associated with the Western invaders because of their faith. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes; the number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.5 million in 1990 to perhaps as low as 400,000 today.

– barnabas team

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