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Aceh shuts down 16 Christian 'undung-Undungs'

Jakarta Globe - May 8, 2012

Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh – The Aceh administration has shut down at least 16 Christian places of worship since May 2, alleging they were being run without permits and had been drawing complaints from locals.

The 16 buildings, called "undung-undung" in Aceh, were located across four subdistricts in Aceh Singkil district. Different from churches, undung-undungs are smaller in size and have no cross on their exterior.

Aceh Singkil district head Razali Abdul Rahman said his administration started sealing the buildings May 2 and May 3 in response to locals' complaints.

"It's not churches but undung-undungs that we've sealed. It's because they don't have any permits and because they've breached a previously agreed deal," Razali told the Jakarta Globe.

"The sealing of houses of worship that run without permits is meant to avoid conflicts among the religious communities," he added. "We previously agreed that there should be only one church and four undung-undungs in Singkil."

On April 30, hundreds of members of the Aceh Singkil Muslim Forum held a rally in the town to demand the closing of the undung-undungs.

Razali said his administration had acted independently of the group's demands. "It has nothing to do with the rallies. This is a move to maintain public order because the houses of worship have no permits and breach the regulation," he said.