About 40 local government officials watched as a bulldozer destroyed the unfinished church building of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in the Bekasi region on 21 March.

Officials ordered the destruction because the HKBP had no building permit. Although church leaders were in the process of applying for a permit, the church’s construction was strongly opposed by the mainly Muslim neighbourhood.

On 21 March, the 600-strong congregation met to pray that the demolition would be stopped, and they pleaded with officials to rethink their decision. Local church leaders and rights campaigners insist that the demolition was illegal under the constitution, which guarantees freedom of worship.

The church’s pastor, Torang Parulian Simanjuntak, said he intends to file a lawsuit against the Bekasi Regency’s administration. He also said the church will continue to meet near the demolished church. Sources: The Jarkarta Post, Release International

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