JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Indonesian government extended protection for Christians throughout the country and reduced jail sentences for Christians currently confined in penal institutions.
Over 180,000 officers were deployed by the National Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) to protect Christians as they gathered to celebrate the birth of Christ. Reports indicate that believers were able to worship peacefully and without incident as a result of the government-provided security measures.
The country’s Law and Human Rights Ministry handed out reductions in sentences to more than 9,000 incarcerated Christians. Reductions varied by the amount of time served, with prisoners receiving reductions ranging from 15 to 60 days. Reductions of a month or longer were given primarily to those who had already served from one to three years.
Of the 9,333 granted reduction, 175 received remissions that allowed them to go free and return to their homes.
Several government officials, including Jakarta Governor Anies Basweda and Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo attended services at a local cathedral. Indonesian President Joko Widodo delivered a speech celebrating the Christmas holiday, declaring the multiculturalism of Indonesian people “truly a blessing” and noting the Indonesian Christians are often taken for granted.
This has been a welcome holy day in comparison to the Christmas Eve of 2000 when 13 Indonesian Christians were killed and 100 wounded in attacks on 11 churches.
In June 2017, an Indonesian church experienced a bombing attack as well.
Sources: Jakarta Post, Christian Post, Herald Malaysia