NGOs Accused Of Missionary Work in Aceh And Banned

Banda Aceh, TAG - The Aceh Jaya district administration has banned four nongovernmental organizations from conducting relief work after the groups were accused of carrying out missionary and conversion activities.

Aceh Jaya district head Azhar Abdurrahman told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday that residents had filed complaints against the organizations, saying they were actively trying to convert Muslims.

“The MPU [Ulema Consultative Assembly] of Aceh Jaya conducted investigations on the ground and verified these claims,” Azhar said.

“They evaluated the claims made by people. It was found that there were indeed indications that these foundations were attempting to put down and shove aside the essence of Islamic teachings in Aceh Jaya.”

Azhar declined to say what religions the organizations were attempting to convert residents to.

The four foundations were identified as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, the Tangan Peduli Foundation, the Fajar Harapan Foundation and Cipta Fondasi Komunitas.

All four organizations have been performing relief work in Aceh Jaya — one of the worst-hit regions in the deadly 2004 tsunami that killed about 170,000 people in the province.

ADRA is tacitly linked to a religion, having been established by the Seventh-Day Adventist Christian church.

However, according to the ADRA’s Web site, the organization has a strict non-proselytizing policy.

CFK has ties to Baptist World Aid Australia, a nonprofit Christian organization.
It is unclear whether the Tangan Peduli and Fajar Harapan foundations have any religious affiliations.

But Ronald Richard Simaela, from Tangan Peduli, denied his group was trying to convert Muslims. Tangan Peduli, he said, is only focused on irrigation work and providing farmers with seeds.

“Please go out into the field and see what kind of work we do,” Ronald said. “We are not involved in missionary work. We are waiting for the Aceh Jaya administration to give us a chance to explain ourselves.”

Evi Mardiana Sitio, from CFK, also denied any involvement in missionary work and questioned Azhar’s claim of an “on the ground” investigation by the MPU.

“We are so disappointed with Aceh Jaya’s district head,” Evi said. “Nobody has come to conduct verifications on the ground or have a dialogue with us. We have been conducting humanitarian work here in Aceh Jaya since April 2005.”

“It is false to say that we have been involved in missionary or conversion activities,” she continued. “Ask our local staff. Ask the people of Krueng Sabe. We have done no such activities. We have done so much relief work in the Mentawai Islands as well.”

Evi said the ban would only hurt the people of Aceh.

“We are not the ones losing out here. We can always take our program somewhere else,” she said.

ADRA and Fajar Harapan could not be reached for comment.[]
NGOs Accused Of Missionary Work in Aceh And Banned NGOs Accused Of Missionary Work in Aceh And Banned Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on May 13, 2011 Rating: 5

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