Wed, 24 Dec 2003

Christmas event brings solidarity to evictees

Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

About 250 evictees of different faiths joined in an early Christmas celebration on Monday evening at the office of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Central Jakarta.

Some of them sat on a mat in the back yard of the office listening to the service while others stood.

Each held a candle and sang Christmas carols accompanied by a pipe-organ.

Four girls from evicted families from Tanjung Duren Selatan, West Jakarta, performed a modern dance before other evictees.

Organizer Bejo, an evictee from Cengkareng Timur, West Jakarta, said evictees from Cengkareng Timur, Tanjung Duren Selatan, Jembatan Besi in West Jakarta and Muara Angke in North Jakarta had been invited to celebrate Christmas together. Other evictees not taking refuge at the Komnas HAM office arrived in two rented minibuses.

"We invited them, regardless of their religion, because we want to strengthen solidarity through this hardship," he said.

"I don't celebrate Christmas because I'm Muslim, but I don't mind making all the arrangements, such as the venue and transportation, for this celebration."

Bejo said the evictees received funds for the celebration from several churches.

"Evicted Christians were the ones who raised funds from their respective churches," he said, adding that half of the evictees attending the celebration were Muslim.

"Under circumstances like this, we have to stick together," he said.

During the sermon, the priest told the evictees to keep their faith in God even under the worst of circumstances, such as being homeless.