Five men, all Jehovah’s Witnesses, have been deported by police and immigration officials for “proselytising” their beliefs on the island of Bali.
Two men from the U.S.A, two from Australia and a Frenchman were said to be working (either paid or unpaid, without a permit.) They were deemed to be violating national laws that forbid religious conversion and working while in possession of a tourist visa.
Those deported were, Mishael Alexander Martinez and Derrick Gary Leonard (USA); James Rua Ropiha and Brayden James Bevan (Australia); and Steven Gerrard Felix Otal (France).
Bali’s constitution recognises freedom of religion for six mainstream belief systems. These include Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism.
Laws and policies place restrictions on certain types of religious activity, particularly among unrecognized religious groups and “deviant” sects of recognized religious groups.
Local citizens in a North Meteo Complex notified the police that the men were going from door to door in the neighborhood, inviting people to the April 3, Memorial, taking place in the Jimbaran area of Bali.
According to Bali Discovery.com, although Jehovah Witnesses is a recognized religious sect in Indonesia, it is “expressly forbidden for any religion to actively promote their religious doctrine to differing sects or religions.”
The U.S. State Department’s 2010 report on the status of religious freedom in Indonesia, notes that discussion about religious freedom with government and civil society leaders takes place as part of the USA’s overall policy to promote human rights.
Currently, Indonesian law does not allow for non-belief in God.
When deported, the men were blacklisted and will not be able to return to Bali for an indeterminate period.
Bali Discovery.com – Five Jehovah’s Witnesses deported from Bali for conducting door to door religious ministry Link
Wikipedia – Freedom of religion in Indonesia Link
U.S. State Department’s 2010 report on the status of religious freedom in Indonesia Link
Photo credit Bali Discovery.com