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Sunday School Workers Incarcerated In Indonesia

MEDIA RELEASE

Sunday School Workers Incarcerated In Indonesia And Christian School Girls Beheaded.

New Zealand Director of the Barnabas Fund, Julian Dobbs, returned to New Zealand this week after visiting three incarcerated Sunday School workers in Indramayu Prison, West Java and the family of beheaded Christian school girl in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Indramayu, West Java, Dr. Rebecca Laonita, Mrs Ratna Mala Bangun and Mrs Ety Pangesti are incarcerated. The accusations against them are based on Regulation 86 UU No. 23 2002 Child Protection which says: Any person who purposely uses deception, lies or enticement to make a child choose another religion not of his own free will, whereas it is known or should be assumed that the child is not of age and not responsible according to the religion they follow, will be prosecuted by imprisonment for five years and/or a fine of Rp.100.000.000 (one hundred million Rupiah). The evidence provided is one Bible and six t-shirts. None of the children upon whom the accusation has been based according to the Child Protection Regulation 86 No. 23 2002 have changed their religion.

On 1 September 2005 Rebekka, Ety and Ratna - were charged with Christianization because they allowed some Muslim children to attend their Sunday School called "Happy Week". The children had the parents permission but these women, witnesses and judges were constantly under the threats of violence from hundreds of Islamic radicals who threatened to kill the three ladies, witnesses, pastors, missionaries and even the judges if the women were acquitted. The jihadists arrived at the court in 9 trucks and brought a coffin to bury the accused if they were found not guilty. Their violent threats continued in their speeches before the session began. When the Panel of Judges read the verdict finding the three ladies guilty of all charges and sentencing them to 3 years imprisonment, the crowd erupted with "Allahu akbar" or "Allah is Greater".

The women sleep on hardwood platforms with no blankets or sheets. There are 12 women altogether, in the prison, and eight share a 5 metre x 5 metre jail cell where they must pay the guards to turn on the water for their toilet.

Elsewhere in central Sulawesi Christians are suffering increased pressure. Since Christmas 1998 the Christians of Central Sulawesi have been subjected to numerous attacks, Christian villages burned down, many churches destroyed, Christian leaders, pastors and community leaders assassinated.

Barnabas Fund has a housing project in this region for Christians whose houses have been destroyed.

This past year a lady pastor was executed while preaching in the city of Palu, the Chief Prosecutor was gunned down on the way home from church, a village chief was kidnapped and murdered, farmers were killed by snipers, a bus was bombed and the Tentena market was bombed killing 24 people.

On Saturday, October 29, 2005 Theresia Murangke (14), Ida Lambuaga (15) and Alfina Yarni Sambue (15) were among a group walking through a cacao plantation on the way to school when a group of men with murderous intentions attacked them. Three were caught and beheaded.

The attack took place among the cacao trees just 1 mile from the village of Sayo at the intersection with the road to Buyumboyo. Police spokesman, Rais Adam, confirmed the discovery of the headless bodies. One of their heads was found in front of a church in the village of Kasiguncu, 8 miles, from where the bodies were found. Then the remaining two heads were found soon afterward near the police station.

The family of Alfina Yarni Sambue (15) who had been beheaded, told Mr Dobbs of the events surrounding their daughter’s beheading. A local Christian Leader advised that there was Rp 75 million being offered for the ‘head’ of any Christian pastor. Mr Dobbs also met with Noviana Malewa (14), who escaped from her would be assassins with severe machete slash wounds to her face and is being treated, under heavy guard, at a hospital.

Mr Dobbs, who recently had dialogue at the United Nations, says that political correctness prevents information about persecuted Christians from being reported. Many governments and leaders in the developed nations are terrified by the more radical elements of Islam and due to this, the suffering of many thousands of Christian converts goes unreported and unnoticed by western governments and much of the public.

Barnabas Fund serves the suffering Church and advocates for Christian minorities.

ENDS

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