The Bogor administration’s plan to relocate the GKI Yasmin Church to Jalan Semeru in Kotaparis, Bogor, has been met with rejection from local residents.
Residents in the area slated for the relocation of the long-troubled church argued that relocation will not solve the problem.
“Our rejection is based on the fact that the relocation of the Yasmin Church will not just be a physical relocation. Its problems will also be relocated,” said Yayat A. Suhendar, the head of the Kotaparis neighborhood watch unit, on Tuesday. “The Yasmin Church should stay at the Taman Yasmin housing complex,”
Yayat pointed out that the Eben Haezar Protestant Church is already on Jalan Semeru, where it’s been for almost 30 years.
“If you insist on relocating it, then the distance between one church and the other will only be about 100 meters. We’re just concerned about the impact, that it could create antipathy from the residents against church followers, not to mention the traffic jam it will cause. Basically, one church is enough for us in our area.”
The Bogor administration has allocated Rp 3.5 billion ($365,000) for the relocation of the GKI Yasmin Church.
Jayadi Damanik one of the advocates for GKI Yasmin, said that the church no longer trusts the Bogor administration to solve the problem.
“Can you imagine, the first person who recommended that the church be built in Taman Yasmin in 2002 was Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto, and he gave his appreciation for the building of the church during the ground-breaking ceremony,” said Jayadi.
Diani later bowed to pressure from residents opposed to the church, sealing off GKI Yasmin even after a Supreme Court ruling ordered that the church be allowed to reopen. The Bogor mayor asked Yasmin followers to wait for protests to cool down and promised that the administration would take care of the problem once it was over.
“The mayor has played with our feelings and we no longer have confidence, therefore we’re against the relocation,” Jayadi said.
The Wahid Institute said that the relocation of GKI Yasmin will not solve any problems.
“Looking at the solutions given by the government on cases related to religious intolerance such as the Sampang, Cikeusik, HKBP Filadelfia cases, which just recommended relocation, we see that it will not solve the root of the problem,” said spokesman for Wahid Institute Subhi Azhari in a discussion in Bogor last week.
He said the central government cannot rely on the local administration to solve the GKI Yasmin case because the mayor is involved in the dispute. “Intervention from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is needed to solve the problem,” he added.
In the years since the onset of the reform era, sectarian conflicts have increased nationwide. JG