Indonesia: 20 churches face demolition

The core of the problem is the contradictory regulations between 2007 gubernatorial decree and 2006 joint ministerial decree.

Updated: Jun 13, 2012, 09:18 AM IST

Jakarta: At least 20 churches in Indonesia`s Aceh province have been closed down and are likely to be demolished by the administration under state regulations on construction of houses of worship.

Eva K Sundari, a lower house lawmaker, said the human rights commission has received complaints from the United North Sumatra Alliance about the forced closure of 20 churches.

The core of the problem is the contradictory regulations between the 2007 gubernatorial decree and the 2006 joint ministerial decree on construction of houses of worship.

"Under the ministerial decree, a house of worship can only be built if it has secured the approval of 90 worshipers while the gubernatorial decree requires the approval of 150 worshippers," Eva said.

The ministerial decree also requires the approval of 60 local residents of different faiths.

Worse still, Eva said, was a local edict that forbade Muslims from approving the construction of houses of worship other than mosques, which made it impossible for the churches to fulfil the requirements.

Not only have new churches been forced to close but also the Pakpak Dairi Protestant Church, which was established in 1932, is likely to be demolished, she said.

"Guidance from the home minister is needed so that the local consultative forum and the police can be fair and neutral for all citizens and not bow down to intolerant groups," she said.