1000 candles for HKBP tragedy in Bekasi

Tempo Interactive – September 19, 2010
Candle lit vigil for religious tolerance (Selalu Indah)
Candle lit vigil for religious tolerance (Selalu Indah)

Mojokerto, East Java – Scores of young people from a variety of organisations held a peaceful action on Jl. Gajah Mada, directly in front of the Mojokerto municipal government office complex in East Java on Sunday evening September 19.

The action involved the lighting of 1 thousand candles, accompanied by prayers, which were then followed by speeches from the representatives of the respective organisations. The protesters called for an investigation into the stabbing of a church elder and the attack on a Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) congregation in Bekasi last week.

“The government must fully investigate the case. If it is not prepared to then the government is anti-democratic”, said action coordinator Toyik.

The one hour action, which began at 7pm, was joined by representatives from the Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII), Indonesian Christian Youths (Mudki), labour organisations, the Islamic mass organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), church groups, reverends and Muslim preachers.

Following the action, Simon Filantropha from the East Java Regional Communion of Churches (PGW) advisory board stated his concern over the case. Filantropha believes the incident is criminal case that requires firm legal action. The government he said, must protect the right to worship for all religious communities and act against those who perpetrate violence. “The perpetrators of the violence must be punished,” he said.

The peaceful action was marred by a minor incident when police interrupted a speech by one of the participants because it was deemed not to be in accordance with the local district police permit. According to the permit, the peaceful action would be held with the lighting of 1 thousand candles with the aim being an action in solidarity with a recent attack on the HKBP congregation.

“But in fact there was a speech that veered off [this theme], and was not in accordance with the permit”, said one police officer. During the speech, the speaker accused the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono of being anti-democratic and against the poor.

[Translated by James Balowski.]