The Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) in Setu in Bekasi, West Java, was demolished on Thursday afternoon, according to a church leader who said that a lawsuit would be filed against the local administration.
“It’s over. The church was demolished at around 2:45 p.m.,” Rev.Torang Parulian Simanjuntak told The Jakarta Post over the phone today.
HKBP Setu congregation members went to the church on Thursday morning to attempt to stop the demolition of the church as public order officers (Satpol PP) arrived at the location. They held a prayer service and prayed in the church, hoping that the demolition would not happen.
A bulldozer arrived at the location around 11:00 a.m. Members of the church’s congregation began to cry and scream while some tried to prevent the bulldozer from moving closer to the church. Many broke down when it began to tear apart the walls of the church located on Jl.MT Haryono. They called on the Satpol PP officers, asking them to stop the demolition.
The Satpol PP officers prevented people from getting closer to the church to secure the demolition process. Several officers of the Bekasi Police who were deployed to the location tried to calm down the congregation members. Church elders also tried to calm their followers.
Torang said the demolition was illegal. “The Bekasi regent should have first given us the demolition order; but we have never received any letter from the regent,” he said.
HKBP Setu has struggled to obtain a building permit for the church which was built in 1999.
“We will soon file a lawsuit against the Bekasi regency administration,” said Torang, adding that the church’s congregation would still hold their services near the demolished church.