International Affairs, Peace & Human Security

Report of WCC-CCA delegation's visit to Indonesia
27 January - 4 February 1999


Appendix II: WCC statement on the situation in Indonesia / CCA statement on the situation in Indonesia /
PGI statement and position of the Executive Board on the destruction of worship houses and banning of worship services

APPENDIX I: List of persons met and organizations visited


1. Rev. Dr. Sularso Sopater, Chairman, PGI
2. Rev. Dr. Joseph Pattiasina, General Secretary, PGI
3. Rev. Paulus Suhindro Putra, G.K. Kalam Kudus, Jakarta
4. Rev. Dr. S. Wismoady Wahono, Moderator, East Java Christian Church
5. Dr. Raduis Pawiro, member PGI Advisory Board and former Cabinet Minister 6. Mr. Sabam Siagian, Editor, Jakarta Post and former Ambassador to Australia
7. Dr. Leo L. Ladjar OFM, Bishop of Jayapura
8. Rev. Hermann Saud, Chairman, GKI - IRJA, Irian Jaya
9. Rev. Herman Awom, Deputy Chairman, GKI - IRJA, Irian Jaya
10. Rev. Agustina Iwanggin, Deputy Secretary, GKI - IRJA, Irian Jaya
11. Mr. Jan B. Rumbar, Treasurer, GKI - IRJA, Irian Jaya


1. President B.J. Habibie
2. Mr. Feisal Tanjung, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs
3. Mr. Syarwan Hamid, Minister for Home Affairs
4. General Wiranto, Minister for Defence and Security, Head of the Armed Forces
5. Mr. Akbar Tandjung, State Secretary
6. Mr. Ali Alatas, Minister for Foreign Affairs
7. Drs. Djohan Effendi, Ministry of Religious Affairs
8. Brigadier General Abraham Atuturi, Vice Governor General, Irian Jaya

Non-Governmental Organizations

1. Drs. Abdur rehman Wahid, General Chairperson, Nahdlatul Ulama
2. Mr. Muchtar Pakphan, General Chairman, Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union
3. Rev. Sandiyawan Sumardi, S.J., Secretary Volunteers Team for Humanitarian Causes.
4. Ms. Kamala Chandrakirana, Executive Secretary, National Commission on Violence Against Women
5. Mr. Yohanis G. Bonay, Director, Els-ham, Jayapura
6. Mr. Denny Yomaki, The Irian Jaya Environment Foundation, Jayapurabr> 7. Messrs. Aloy Renwain, Augustinus Sroyer, Ferry Marisan - Institute of Human Rights Study and Advocacy in Irian Jayabr> 8. Deky Rumaropen, Foundation for Rural Community Development, Irian Jaya
9. Drs. Paul Tahalele, Indonesia Christian Communication Forum, Surabaya
10. Kya Haji Hasyin Muzadi, Chariperson, East Java, Regional Nahdlatul Ulama
11. Mr. H. C. Rhoviq, Professor of Islamic Studies, Malang
12. Ms. Karlino Leksono, Voice of Concerned Mothers
13. Drs. Lukas Sugeng Musianto, Universitas Kristen Petra, Surabaya
14. Ms. Sri Winaiti S, Department of Women's Role, East Java Christian Church, Malang
15. Mr. They Eluay, Head of Irian Jaya's Tribal Council
16. Partners Who Care "Mitra Peduli"
17. Crisis Centre PGI
18. POKJA PLPPGI-Prisoners Service Group
19. Christian NGOs Network in Indonesia
21. Forum Kota
22. Muslim Student Movement
23. Forum Saatri Indonesia
24. Indonesian SCM
25. Forum Komunikasi Generasi Muda Jakarta
26. Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia
27. Musigraha Agung
28. Mr. Marzuki Darusman, Chairperson Indonesian Human Rights Commission

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APPENDIX II: World Council of Churches statement on the situation in Indonesia

The World Council of Churches expresses its profound concern and dismay at the recent developments in Indonesia that have, according to some reports, left 24 students and civilians dead, as a result of the growing unrest and violence in the country. Scores of others have been injured, and many students and pro-democracy activists are reported missing.

The present turmoil in Indonesia started with the economic and financial crisis that led to demands for social and political reforms. The students who are in the forefront of the movement for reforms have called for accountability and an end to corruption in government circles. The government, instead of listening to the grievances of the people and responding positively, resorted to reprisals through military means, thus exacerbating the situation.

The root cause of the present socio-economic and political crisis in Indonesia lies in years of misrule, corruption and human rights violations which over the years have come to symbolize the military and the ruling elites. To reverse this trend, President Suharto's government is under pressure to accept the demands of the people for a more transparent and participatory political system.

Deeply concerned by these developments, the World Council of Churches urges the Indonesian government to exercise restraint and to make every effort to prevent any further escalation of violence. Immediate steps should be taken to introduce political reforms and to stop kidnappings, the forced disappearances of citizens and violations of human rights.

The World Council of Churches expresses its appreciation and support for the position taken by the Executive Board of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia in its statement of the 7th May 1998, and assures it of the WCC's continuing prayers and support for the people of Indonesia.

Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser
General Secretary

May 15, 1998

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Christian Conference of Asia statement on the situation in Indonesia

The Officers and the Executive Committee of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), meeting in Hong Kong SAR, China on May 13-14 1998, has authorized the issuance of the following statement on the situation in Indonesia:

1. The situation of unrest and dislocation that has engulfed Indonesia in recent days has clearly reached incredibly alarming proportions, and we join people all over Asia and all over the world in viewing it with deep concern. A crisis that started with the onslaught of economic and financial chaos has now clearly evolved into a critical and severe social and political crisis as well, much to the detriment and suffering of the Indonesian people. The astounding devaluation of the Indonesian currency, the soaring of prices of essential commodities, the massive layoff of workers and the heightening of unemployment, the deterioration of living standards - all these and more happen at an appalling pace and with a pervasive deterioration of human well being. Whatever else is said or purported about the resolution of the crisis and of improving conditions in the future, it simply has to be said, as so many others have said, that the monetary currency system is collapsing and that the government, despite claims to the contrary and despite the assistance of international financial agencies and supportive countries, simply has been unable to arrest this collapse and restore financial stability. An appallingly increasing loss of confidence and trust of an ever-widening number of its own people now confronts the Indonesian government. Indonesia and its people face a frightening economic, social and political crisis of a magnitude and depth that has not been seen in its national life in recent decades.

2. The manifestations and symptoms of the crisis are unmistakable. Social discontent and unrest have now turned into riots. Voices of dissent and expressions of grievances against what is considered a corrupt economic and political administration are met at gunpoint. The kidnapping and killing of political dissidents have become common. Students who demonstrate for reforms and social activists who seek relief from the burdens of the sudden downturn in their economic conditions are openly suppressed. Human rights violations are rampant everywhere. Signs of ethnic and inter-religious conflict have become more palpable and numerous. Indeed, today as we meet, news of the shooting of students in Jakarta and other places in Indonesia reached us and we are told of an increasing number of deaths and injuries, of the escalation of the use of violence, and of a widening wave of Indonesians fleeing their own country in order to seek haven and relief in neighbouring countries. The situation has clearly deteriorated considerably and it is grave.

3. In this situation of great distress and suffering to people in Indonesia and of clear signs of a heightening sense of economic, social and political unrest, the CCA expresses its great concern and wishes all to know its sentiments. Beyond anything else, it expresses its solidarity and companionship with the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) and of its member Churches, and with all those who have been struck with so much harm and pain by the prevailing conditions of uncertainty and deprivation.

In particular, it expresses its solidarity with the stand of the PGI on the current situation in Indonesia and the actions it has taken to respond to this situation of economic, social and political turmoil.

4. The CCA notes with a deep sense of sorrow and regret that financial stability seems no longer possible under the conditions of present political governance in Indonesia. In short, economic stability can no longer be restored and recovery can no longer be attained unless these are accompanied by well-needed political reforms , and unless changes occur in the manner of political governance that can restore the trust and confidence of the Indonesian people. The CCA expresses its solidarity, its prayers and its supplications to God for those people and movements who, at obviously great sacrifice of their well-being, are seeking and demanding the much-needed reforms that they think will trigger renewal and reconstruction.

5. The CCA urges the Indonesian government to respect, and give proper consideration to the aspirations of various sectors of Indonesian society who have demanded greater democratic space and who seek a more participatory political structure.

6. The CCA urges the Indonesian government to institute immediate measures to protect the human rights of all in Indonesia, to release political prisoners, and to ensure in all circumstances a respect for human dignity and fundamental freedoms in accordance with national laws and international standards.

7. The CCA finally underscores the need for all members of Indonesian society to work for and promote peace with justice, communal harmony, unity and prosperity for the nation and all of its people.

Feliciano V. Carino, PH.D.
General Secretary

May 1998

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Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI)
Statement and Position of the Executive Board on the destruction of worship houses and banning of worship services

Observing our common journey along the year 1998 we noticed that actions of violence and human rights abuse were so significantly giving shape to the year. Violence seemed to have become a trend or a new culture for the solution of conflicts and opinion disputes of the elite circles. And it serves also as the most possible way of expression of the people after such a long time of living under repression and restraint. Records of 1998 also demonstrate a significant and serious violations of freedom of religion, property rights and right for protection. Hence, the year 1998 can be recorded as the year of violence and the year of nightmare for the Indonesia nation where differences and diversities were politicized and dramatized to make people kill one another, loot and destroy the properties of others.

Large-scale destruction and burnings of worship buildings began in 1996, exactly June 1996 in Sidotopo, Surabaya, East Jawa, and in 1998 quantity and quality of the actions have accelerated significantly. A grand strategy of blaming the Christians and Chinese Indonesians as the source cause ("mastermind") of the economic and political crises seems to gain opportunity increasingly. The Government and the Armed Forces have never given any adequate and open explanation about solution to the violent cases, though they stated frequently that the mastermind has been identified. So, worries and disappointments have been mixing in regard to the State administration which is no longer standing for all groups of the national community; for example similar violent actions broke up in Bekasi at the end of 1998, and yet worse in Pulo Gebang, East Jakarta where Christians were prohibited of worship services and threats were imposed that worship buildings will be destroyed if they neglect warning. This was followed by tragedies of civil war in Poso, also at the end of 1998, destructive actions in Karawang where Christian worship houses were damaged and set on fire.

Observing critically to the frequent incidents, the riots, the PGI Executive Board felt sad and disappointed; nonetheless it maintains full commitment to justice, peace and love for their action. The PGI Executive Board noticed that:

  • Unfirm, nervous and uncertain policies of the Government and the Armed Forces in dealing with the SARA (ethnic, religious racial and group) riots have triggered and given time for consolidation to report such incidents and riots. This has aggravated differences, it is not educative and it nurses hatred among the people which is highly potential for a "civil war".

  • Damaging of worship buildings in Bekasi during Christmas celebrations followed by the banning of worship services and threats against Christians in Pulo Gebang, East Jakarta at the time when people were preparing to celebrate Christmas 1998 were really disturbing and painful. And it became worse again when the riot in Karawang set 3 Church buildings on fire as if it indicated that such action will grow further in 1999. The damaging and burning of Church buildings, and in particular the prohibition of worship services represent seriously contradictive actions not only to the common moral of a nation but also religious moral, including Islamic moral.

Religion politicization and efforts to make groups of people fight against each other have reached the phase of "spontaneity". This is a political success of political speculations of the New Order era to divide horizontal concentration by using religious issues. With the success in leading people to this stage the instigators can easily create mass riots of racial or religious nature in many places. We therefore underline that the future of this Unitarian State is facing a really serious and dangerous threat. The seed of a social revolution is at the threshold.

Though the Poso incident with mass fightings began with a simple criminal issue it was so fastly developed into a massive riots with the banner of religious solidarity. Mass from outside the Poso town flow down to Poso and turned the town into an arena of open war. The Regent and his administration left the town, while the military forces were pulled to their quarters. Probably this drama of civil war is not the last one. It seems that more number of open wars will come up, and the Government and the Armed Forces will say they cannot control the situation.

It is time to settle completely this horizontal problem, and it must be decided by the people themselves. It seems that involving the Government elites or the political elites will only worsen the situation. In this respect the PGI Executive Board see that in order to get rid of a prolonging civil war it is time to end this conflict substantially by involving religious leaders. The Government should act merely as facilitator.

Being fully aware of the heavy burden born by the Government and the serious dilemma in maintaining the Nation's integrity, and also considering the efforts toward reconciliation and reconsolidation within the Armed Forces, the PGI Executive Board appeals and calls all components of the Nation as follows:

1. Take immediate steps to settle all conflicts of interest at all levels of political elites and within the community. This would need a long time, a national dialogue is urgently needed to build people's trust to the political elites who have disturbed peace in the community. Conflict solution at the elite level will help pacify conflicts at community level which were often politicized for the interest of certain people.

2. Urge and demand the Government and the Armed Forces to exercise their functions to guarantee the right for protection, property right and right to freedom of religion in this country. Doubt and uncertainty and unfirmness will lead the Indonesian nation to a deeper destruction. Banning of the right to worship is too painful comparing to the burning of worship houses. Just like for Moslems, worship is a substantial expression of human rights. Prohibition of worship is therefore a gross violation of human rights.

3. The civil war phenomenon is extremely disturbing. Without mentioning the Christian community in Poso which is the majority, but become victims, we would like to underline that the Poso case serves as our common reference, and it is quite possible that people will fight against one another. Therefore, in order to avoid any threatening civil war we seriously urge the Armed Forces and the Government to take strict action to trace the instigators and mass organizers coming from outside the town, and not to be trapped by issues against certain groups.

4. The safety of the Nation is very much dependant on self-resilience of the whole community. Dialogues and continuing interactions are positive ways to avoid fightings against one another, attacking one another and accusing one another. Our nation is really wounded, but it is curable if we succeed to avoid instigations and provocations. We therefore appeal to the whole Indonesian nation to strengthen our sense of fraternity and not to be provoked to commit destructive deeds. Let us create an atmosphere of peace with our neighbours.

May God protect our Nation and our State. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Sularso Sopater
General Chairman

Rev. Dr. J.M. Pattiasina
General Secretary

Jakarta, January 11, 1999

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