"Allah is the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest!"
Shouts of takbir were occasionally thrown from behind the rows of backs of the police who had since morning covered the fence of the Santo Joseph Church in Karimun Regency, Riau Islands. It was Thursday, February 6, 2020, around 09.00 WIB. A group of people acting on behalf of the Karimun District Care Alliance (APKK) protested against the plan to restore the church building that had been around since 1928.
“Romi! Hoi Romi! You look at my face, ”shouted one of them, pointing his finger at Romi — a nickname from Romesko Purba, one of the church building committee (PPG).
The one with a name doesn't budge. His ears slowed down. The work of cleaning the fragile hall for more than 90 years was not completed that day.
"I'll rest for a while, okay? Called Romo, "Romi said to some of his friends.
“Don't come in, don't enter. Father doesn't know the situation, ”said a friend.
"Have you come in," said another person who suggested because the situation was getting hot.
The Karimun Sector Police seemed unable to do much other than calm the demonstrators, who began to remove the corrugated iron on the building dividing and shake the green-painted church fence. Even among the demonstrators, there were people who seemed to be trying to push their way into the St. Joseph Church complex.
“Hoi Romi, don't run, you. Hoi Romi, don't run, ”scolded the man who claimed to be Berry when he saw Romi turn to the Pastor
Dressed in white robes, Kristiono Widodo walked towards the crowd. Two members of the Civil Service Police Unit (Satpol PP) who saw his presence rushed over to jump over the fence. In the midst of the escort, the man who was familiarly called Father Kris intended to invite the demonstrators to talk calmly. But before he had time to speak, they complained that there was nothing more to talk about.
"There is no further explanation. There is no negotiation for us. Dismantle all this, ”shouted several demonstrators in the video Youtube duration of more than 4 minutes uploaded by the Parish of Santo Joseph Tanjung Balai Karimun in February 2020.
The violent protests of the few lasted almost a day. Late in the afternoon, the Karimun Police took the Romesko to the office, which is located just off Jalan Trikora from St. Joseph Church. Hearing that a Church representative was picked up by the police, a Church official and a number of PPGs followed. Meanwhile, Father Kristiono met with the Regent of Karimun, Aunur Rafiq and the Head of the Karimun Police, Yos Guntur Yudi.
"The parish priest objected and asked to make a guarantee letter not to be detained and the priest to come along," said Romesko to Jaring.id on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.
To calm the demonstrators, Regent Karimun Aunur conveyed the contents of the meeting that night. According to Aunur, there were three things agreed by FUIB and the Church, including related to the relocation of buildings, the conversion of the Church's status to cultural heritage, and the revocation of building permits (IMB). These three things will be bundled to be discussed further with the Bishop of Pangkalpinang Mgr. Sunarko OFM and the Ministry of Religion.
"I ask that according to our circular, each party restrains itself. There were no demonstrations and the Church did not carry out any development activities, "said Regent Aunur Rafiq in a video obtained by Jaring.id.
The polemic for the construction of the St. Joseph Church began in 2012. At that time the Church felt the need to increase the capacity of their houses of worship. According to Kristiono Widodo, the building, which was founded in 1928, can no longer accommodate congregations, which now number more than two thousand people. A number of logs were almost destroyed by termites. If it is not corrected immediately, mistakes can harm the congregation who is worshiping.
“The current capacity of the Church is only 100 people. Meanwhile, the number of people who come can reach 600 people, ”said Father Kris at a press conference on October 25, 2019.
In May 2012, the committee began work to gather support in the form of signatures from local residents. PPG received 107 out of 60 signatures of support from the non-Catholic community in accordance with Joint Ministerial Decrees (PBM) Number 8 and 9 of 2006. In addition, the Church construction committee (PPG) has also prepared a new two-story building frame (design), complete with religious symbols such as a cross and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Initially, local authorities such as Kelurahan Tanjung Balai issued recommendation letters numbered 011 / VII / 2012 and Certificate of Building Sempadanan Permits numbered 09/648 / TGB / 01.1001 / VII / 2012. Through this recommendation letter, the Church can obtain a Building Construction Permit (IMB) Recommendation Letter number 30/648 / VII / 2012 from Usai from Karimun District. The process of collecting these requirements is carried out for a year.
As of May 2013, the committee has collected a number of administrative requirements. Among other things, a recommendation letter from the Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) at the sub-district and district levels, then the Ministry of Religion of Karimun Regency to the permit from the Public Works and Spatial Planning Agency (PUPR). The recommendation letter is needed to obtain a building construction permit (IMB) from the Investment Service and One Stop Integrated Service (DPMPTSP).
However, more than a year, the expected permit has not been issued even though the committee has received a recommendation letter for an IMB from the Karimun Regency Public Works Office number 21 / IMB / DPU / 2013. According to Romesko Purba, the Amdal recommendation letter from the Environmental Agency has not been published because of the rejection of some of the community towards the plan to restore the church.
It was Zainuddin Ahmad - currently serving as a member of the Riau Islands Provincial DPRD 2019-2024 - who commanded the refusal of residents of the Tangsi Budaya Club (BBC) settlement. Apart from the problem of placing the statue of the Virgin Mary and the cross in the church yard, Zainuddin did not want the old church building to be converted into two floors. When this case surfaced, Zainuddin had sat on the seat of the Karimun Council for the 2014-2019 period.
"The building of houses of worship is crucial, the Karimun Regency Government should invite the surrounding community and Karimun people in general to conduct a deliberation whether to agree to the construction of a church in that location or not. This is so that it doesn't become a problem behind the day, like what happened last Friday (25/10/2019) where there was an action against dozens of Muslim communities in Karimun, "said Zainuddin as quoted by Karimuntoday.com on October 26, 2020.
This refusal then prompted a number of other institutions to pull together the letters of recommendation that had been given. The Ministry of Religion of Karimun Regency and FKUB Karimun each withdrew a letter of recommendation in June 2013. This was stated in DPMPTSP's rejection of the IMB application from DPMPTSP. The restoration of the church ran aground after the local government returned the permit files in October 2013.
Since then, PPG has been faced with a stalemate. The promise of the Karimun Regency Government to mediate or facilitate the meeting with the opposing groups never happened. Until a few years later, permit processing was neglected for five years.
Asa rejuvenated the Church of Santo Joseph, which was only reappointed by Adrianus Sunarko in 2018. The bishop of Pangkalpinang Diocese, who has served since September 23, 2017, examined the problems one by one by accommodating protesters' requests. He revised the design of the church from two floors to one floor and did not display crosses and statues outside the church building. The change to the building design was approved by the local authorities by granting a building construction permit (IMB) Number 0386 / DPMPTSP / IMB-81/2019 on October 2, 2019.
Even though they were already armed with the IMB, the groups opposing development were not discouraged. While the committee was preparing for the groundbreaking event on Friday, October 25, 2019, a number of people took another street action from behind the church fence. In fact, they do not hesitate to turn on the music with loudspeakers when dozens of church congregations perform religious services. They demanded that the Regent of Karimun revoke the Santo Josep Church permit.
“BBC Citizens Refuse !!! IMB No !! Renovation Yes !! Santo Yusup Karimun Catholic Church House of Worship. BBC RT resident. 01 RW. 01, ”read the excerpts of banners hanging around the Church on June 20, 2019.
Romesko Purba, Head of Public Relations for the Church and Pastoral Development Committee (PPG), revealed that the wave of protests became even more massive after the IMB was issued.
"When we ate and ate after a simple celebration, the demonstrators screamed," said Romesko in surprise to Jaring.id.
Most of the faces of the protesters were not even recognized by Romesko. He suspected that the dozens of people did not come from settlements around the Church.
“I have been in Karimun for 13 years. I memorized their faces, ”he added.
Even so the Church decided to postpone construction. This decision was made after Bishop Adrianus met with Regent Aunur Rafiq at the Karimun Police Headquarters. During the mediation process, the regent asked the Church to cancel the groundbreaking plan. This was followed by the signing of a peace agreement between Zainuddin Ahmad and the Parish Priest on November 21, 2019.
"However, the Regent still asked for the laying of the first stone to be canceled, but the Parish Priest was still allowed to perform a Thanksgiving Service at the Church the next day. The Regent also asked to postpone the three-month development plan starting from October 25, 2019, ”said Romesko when he met Jaring.id in Jakarta on February 18, 2020.
Striking in the agreement, the church committee took three months to socialize the development plan to the surrounding community. Meanwhile, the local government claims to have an audience with the protesters. However, until the deadline for the delay, namely February 6, 2020, dozens of people protested the initial stage of restoring the church.
"That has not yet knocked down the building, just cleaned up the complex inside in preparation for starting construction. That's when the APKK demonstration took place, ”said Father Hans Jenarut, Public Relations of the PPG St. Joseph Parish who replaced Romesko Purba by telephone on March 26, 2020.
The protest that time did not come from Zainuddin, but from Hasyim Tugiran. In addition to carrying out street actions, the chairman of the Karimun District Care Alliance (APKK) is suing the Karimun Regency government to the Tanjung Pinang State Administrative Court (PTUN) to revoke the Santo Joseph Church IMB.
"I filed a lawsuit because this did not comply with the conditions, violated several regulations. The licensing that was actually made in 2012 was then issued in 2019. It's not ethical anymore. It's been seven years, right, ”said Hasyim Tugiran to Jaring.id via telephone on April 11, 2020.Basilius Triharyanto)
The manuscript entitled "Seteru Menahun Rejuvenation of the Old Church" is the first of three stories about the peaceful way of building houses of worship. This time we are using a solution journalism approach to explore the church's experience in resolving chronic conflicts. Check out two other stories that net.id will publish every day starting today.