Indonesia, Southeast Asia
Political Leader: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Religions: Islam 80.3%, Christianity 16%, Hinduism 1.9%, Other 1.8%
Persecution Ranking: 41st
Number of Terrorist Groups: 13
Acts of Terrorism: 231; Casualties: 472
Percent of Corruption: 76%
% of People in Poverty: 17.8%
Indonesia is a string of 17,000 islands, which stretches between Thailand and the northern tip of Australia in the Indian Ocean. Indonesia, part of the “ring of fire,” has the largest number of active volcanoes in the world. Earthquakes are frequent. Wallace's line, a zoological demarcation between Asian and Australian flora and fauna, divides Indonesia.
Over the last few years, Indonesia has experienced horrific natural disasters, enduring unthinkable casualties and destruction. On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, whose epicenter was off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, caused a tremendously powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that devastated 12 Asian countries. At least 225,000 people died in the disaster, and millions were left homeless. Indonesia was the heaviest hit, with more than 150,000 casualties. Many of the deaths occurred in the war-torn province of Aceh. Estimates show that 417,124 displaced people, 55 percent of them children, are still living in temporary shelters and camps.
On May 26, 2006, more than 6,200 people were killed in a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Java. About 130,000 were left homeless. Just two months later, on July 17, an earthquake and tsunami struck Java, killing more than 500 people. It was the fourth major earthquake to strike the country in 19 months. And floods ravaged Jakarta in Feb. 2007, killing about 30 people and leaving approximately 340,000 homeless.
Indonesia is the nation with the largest Muslim population worldwide. There are 170 million Muslims compared to the 30 million Christian minority in Indonesia. Whilst there is a large Christian population, they are systematically and socially discriminated against. Many Christians are in jail under false or unlawful charges. Indonesia is troubled by deep racial divides and the situation recently worsened in the north of Sumatra where the situation for Christians and Christian organizations has become precarious. Everyone must choose to follow one of five recognized religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christian (Protestant of Catholic).
Terrorism and Religious Persecution:
In June 2007, police arrested Abu Dujana, a senior military leader of the militant group Jemaah Islamiah who police suspect was involved in the 2003 bombing of the Marriott Hotel. Authorities hoped that his arrest would strike a blow to the group's operations. About two dozen people died in Sept. 2005 when suicide bombers attacked tourist sites in Bali. The attack was eerily similar to the one that took place two years earlier.
Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Mrs.Ratna Bangun and Mrs. Eti Pangesti, three Indonesian women who were jailed after allowing Muslim children to attend their Christian children's club, were released about one year early from their three-year prison sentence on June, 8 2007.
The three women were jailed in 2005, after the Indonesian Clerics Council accused them under the Child Protection Law. The women had run a children’s club called “Happy Week”, in which they sang Christian songs, played games and did Bible studies with children. Following the request of a Muslim grandmother to let her granddaughters attend, the women began allowing Muslim children to come along. All the Muslim parents were aware that the club was run by Christians and involved Christian teaching.
However, after a day-trip was organized by the women, to which parents were also invited, complaints were made about the “Happy Week” club to the police. The women were arrested on May 13th 2005. They were accused of trying to entice the children to convert against their wills.
- Pray for the safety and persistence of Christians in strongly Islamic areas, as they face more pressure than in other regions. Praise the Lord that the persecution has lessened in recent years.
- Praise Jesus for the early release of Rebekka, Ratna and Eti are now reunited with their families. During their time in prison, they did not waste their time but openly witnessed to the other prisoners and the prison staff. It is reported that they “transformed” the prison, cleaning and scrubbing the cells, working in the garden and painting a room for use as a church. Praise God for how He turned what the devil intended for evil, into something that furthered His kingdom for His glory!
Pray that the witness of these three women will continue to have a profound effect on those with whom they had been imprisoned. Pray that many will give their lives to the Lord Jesus whom they follow and who was able to give them peace.
- Pray for the alleviation of burdening issues like poverty, preventing terrorism, consolidating democracy after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing financial sector reforms, stemming corruption and holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations.
Open Doors, Barnabas Fund, wikipedia, 24-7 Operation World, The World Factbook