By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Christians in Indonesia have been forced to pay for funerals of loved ones who died of COVID-19, sources say. At the same time, Muslims could bury coronavirus victims free of charge, Worthy News learned Wednesday.
Authorities in Indonesia’s West Java Province dismissed several cemetery workers after accusations of discriminatory treatment of non-Muslims, Christians said.
The workers were reportedly fired following a complaint by Yunita Tambunan, a Christian woman. She accused workers at Cikadut cemetery in Bandung district of demanding 4 million rupiahs ($276) for her father’s burial.
In published remarks, Tambunan said she was told the government “did not cover the costs for burying non-Muslims.”
She allegedly paid the workers 2.8 million rupiahs ($193) and posted a photo showing the receipt she was issued on payment of the fee, for many Indonesians, that is as much as a monthly wage.
Redy Krisnayana, the head of the funeral team, reportedly admitted receiving money but denied it was obtained by coercion, saying he was willing to return it.
The head of the local anti-COVID-19 task force Ema Sumarna was quoted as saying that the charges on non-Muslims amounted to an “illegal tax.” Sumarna said the city administration pays for all funerals and burials for coronavirus victims.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil reportedly apologized for the incident, saying funerals for COVID-19 victims were free and salaried workers.
Christian human rights spokesman Azas Tigor Nainggolan denied suggestions by Kamil that workers had also demanded money from Muslims. “From the victim’s complaint, it is clear she was charged because they were non-Muslims,” he said in remarks shared by advocacy group Barnabas Fund.
“Discriminatory practices like this continue. The government needs to recognize there is discrimination based on religion,” he stressed.
Nainggolan suggested that several other people were charged after he highlighted the case on social media.
The case underscored concerns among rights activists about reported growing Islamic pressure on devoted Christians in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.
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