Thursday, June 2, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BosNewsLife)-- Three Indonesian Christian women are facing possible five year prison sentences on charges of "attempting to convert Muslim children," human rights group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) said Wednesday, June 1.
In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife News Center VOMC said the three woman, identified only as Dr Rebecca, Mrs Ratna and Mrs Lia, were currently being held "in a two-meter square room" at a police station in Indonesia's Indramayu County, West Java.
VOMC said its investigators learned from the women that they were summoned to the police station on May 3 and that charges were officially laid against them May 14 as "the result of a picnic which they led at Dufan or Fantasy World" theme park in Jakarta in December 2004. "[The VOMC sources] report that the charges come from an incident involving the twelve year old daughter of a prostitute living near their church. The girl had been given a Bible and t-shirt at her request."
VOMC, which investigates the pliight of persecuted Christians, said "the picnic was conducted by a church-run children's program [and] some Muslim children joined the picnic...There were no problems until some of their parents raised complaints" last month. "The ladies face charges of attempting to Christianize the Muslim children and they could face up to five years in jail under the Children Protection Constitution," the organization added.
The Pondok Ceria or 'House of Children' program is intended as a fellowship for Christian children, "but many Moslem children have expressed a desire to participate in the games and teachings," VOMC claimed. The Pondok Ceria is operated under the auspices of Haurgeulis synod of the Gereja Kristen Kemah Daud (GKKD) church in Indramayu County, West Java.
VOMC said it had urged its supporters to "pray that these charges will be dropped and that this ministry to children will be able to continue." The latest developments came as a setback for Christian organizations in Indonesia, which were hoping to recveive more sympathy in the mainly Muslim Asian nation because of their humanitarian aid efforts following the recent Tsunami disaster in the region. Only eight percent of Indonesia's over 238-million people are Christian, while nearly nine out of ten Indonesians are Muslim, according to estimates. (With BosNewsLife Research, Stefan J. Bos and reports fro, Indonesia)