Lombok quake aid workers warned against proselytising

Indonesia’s religious affairs minister has warned volunteers from religious-based organisations against proselytising while offering aid to survivors of deadly earthquakes that recently struck the tourist island of Lombok.

Sep 14, 2018

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s religious affairs minister has warned volunteers from religious-based organisations against proselytising while offering aid to survivors of deadly earthquakes that recently struck the tourist island of Lombok.

The warning comes after a video, purportedly showing aid workers conducting proselytism among child survivors, went viral on social media.

In the video, volunteers were seen offering trauma healing to children and a woman sprinkling water over them, which sparked accusations the workers were trying to baptise them.

The region was hit by three powerful quakes on July 29, Aug 5, and Aug 19, which killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more.Aftershocks are continuing to rock the area in West Nusa Tenggara province.

“A humanitarian mission should be free from apostasy attempts or the introduction of a religion which is different from the one adhered to by people affected by a disaster,” Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said in a statement on Sept 3.

Nearly 97 per cent of the province’s 5 million population are Muslim. The rest include Hindus, Buddhists, Protestants and Catholics.

The minister also cited a call from Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI), a network of humanitarian organisations that includes Caritas Indonesia and the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Centre, stressing the principles of humanitarian accountability such as providing non-proselytising assistance.

“This call must be abided by,” said Saifuddin, urging all aid workers to focus on assisting others regardless of their religious backgrounds.

Fr Laurensius Maryono, priest at St. Mary Immaculate Parish Church in the provincial capital Mataram, said the proselytism claim was false. “It’s simply not true,” he said.

Christian aid officials responded by issuing a statement denouncing the claims.

“We have never conducted proselytism — consciously or unconsciously — among quake victims. The claim going viral is a lie,” the statement said. --ucanews.com(used with permission)

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