Leaders fear rights at risk

Published December 1, 2002

Bielefeld, Germany

Christians in Indonesia fear the Indonesian government will use the security clampdowns in effect since the Oct. 12 bombing in Bali to curtail the human rights of minority groups in the country, including those of churches.

Tony Waworuntu of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), an ecumenical group with 121 member churches in 18 Asian countries, voiced his concern at a press conference before a meeting in Stuttgart, Germany. The meeting between the CCA and the Evangelical Mission of Southwest Germany (EMS) was part of the World Council of Churches ?decade to overcome violence.?

Christians in Indonesia make up less than 10 per cent of the 210 million population in the country. Sunnite Muslims account for 87 per cent of the Indonesian population, Protestants 6.5 per cent and Roman Catholics, 3 per cent. Conflicts between different religions remained when Indonesia gained independence from the Netherlands in 1949.

?Many of these conflicts have been used in power struggles,? said pastor David Tulaar, a member of the EMS staff responsible for mission work in Indonesia.

Mr. Tulaar and Mr. Waworuntu said they believed that Indonesian anti-terror laws would mean the reintroduction of the death penalty and more power to anti-terror-forces.

Mr. Waworuntu said the governments in Asia had to fight political and economic mismanagement to eliminate terrorism.

He noted that bloody conflicts were frequent in many Asian countries, and that church and missionary organizations such as the EMS could further human rights by facilitating dialogue between conflicting parties.

Six German churches and four missionary organizations form the EMS, who has partnerships with 17 churches in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.


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