Indonesia Police Evicts Christian Students

Saturday, October 31, 2009

By Worthy News Asia Service

SETIA says it wants to returm to its facilities, which were taken over by an angry Muslim mob last year..

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (Worthy News)-- Hundreds of Christian students were searching for accommodations Saturday, October 31, after security forces evicted them from two sites in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital.

The students from Arastamar Evangelical Theological Seminary (SETIA) were forced to leave locations where they had taken refuge after Muslim protesters drove them from their campus last year, Christians said.

The latest police raids began Monday, October 26, when students were evicted from a former West Jakarta municipal building, SETIA explained.

It came after some 700 students were expelled from the Bumi Perkemahan Cibubur campground, in Jajarta, Christians said.

At least 5 students were reportedly detained and 6 police officers injured in the skirmishes. The status of the students was not immediately clear Saturday, October 31.


The evictions came as another setback for SETIA as the area was also used as its makeshift school, following the 2008 attack on its facilities by a Muslim mob.

Recently, the Indonesian Supreme Court ruled that ownership of land and the building belongs to a foundation. Following the ruling, the police cleared the site, despite the resistance of the young Christians.

Sukowaluyo Mintorahardjo, leader of SETIA, strongly denied that his institute falsified documents for the construction of buildings, as alleged by some Muslim officials. "It's a false and baseless charge," he said in remarks published by AsiaNews service. "We had all the permits from the outset”.

He said there were economic reasons behind the violence. "About 8 / 10 years ago a construction company approached us, and instead of engaging in a friendly deal - he explains - we were ordered to leave."


The Jakarta provincial government has offered to house students at city-owned office building in North Jakarta, but SETIA officials said was unfit for habitation. "A barn for water buffalo is much nicer than that place," SEITA Secretary Ronald Simanjuntak said in published remarks.

SETIA was founded in 1987 by Pastor Mathew Mangentang, church representatives said. It reportedly has over 29 branches across Indonesia, including in Jakarta.

The stand-off comes at a time when minority Christians have reportedly been the target of several attacks and obstructions in Indonesia, the world's most populated Muslim nation.