TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Bantul's Sedayu Police Chief, Commissioner Sugiarta, revealed that the Immanuel Sedayu Pantekosta Church in Indonesia (Gereja Pantekosta di Indonesia/GPdI) was visited by a hardline mass-organization before Bantul Regent Suharsono revoked the church’s construction permit.
According to the police chief, the hardline group arrived at the location on six vehicles on Friday night of July 9. Sugiarta identified them as the group that was also responsible for the chaos that happened during a cultural event in Pantai Baru in Srandakan, Bantul-Yogyakarta, on October 12, 2018.
“This mass-organization often does this. We have mobilized members from the police sector and local military command (Koramil) to guard the house belonging to Pak Sitorus,” said police chief Sugiarta on Thursday, August 1.
Other than the intimidations by the hardline group, church congregates also found it difficult to hold prayers during a Sunday Mass on July 14 – even though Pastor Sitorus had initially asked for permission from the local village leader of Bandut Lor, Gunung Bulu.
Several locals of Bandut Lor turned on loud music and burnt tires not far from the church.
However, village leader Samsuri denied that it was an attempt to intimidate the church and said that local residents at the time were also conducting “kerja bakti” or community activity. “It’s nonsense to consider it an attempt to intimidate,” said Samsuri at his home.
Samsuri explained that the Islam majority in the neighborhood is only against the church’s existence for not following official procedures to construct a house of worship in the area. During the interview, Tempo was also blasted for reporting the incident and accused of being one-sided in covering the whole incident.
Bantul Regent Suharsono revoked the church’s building permit (IMB) for violating the Religious Ministry’s Decree and Home Affairs Ministry’s decree upon establishing a worship house and issuing IMBs. Suharsono revoked the permit on Friday, July 2, and believes a regular house is not permitted to be make-shifted into a house of worship.
SHINTA MAHARANI (CONTRIBUTOR)