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The Tunbonat family, including the three children, aged 7, 10, and 12, who were expelled from school

OCTOBER 30, 2019

Indonesian Court Protects Religious Freedoms of Schoolchildren

On August 8, 2019, the Administrative Court of Samarinda ruled in favor of three children who were expelled from school for refusing to salute the flag or sing the national anthem. The court ordered that the expulsion be annulled and that all three children return to school. This decision confirms that children cannot be penalized for living by the religious convictions of their Witness parents and establishes that Indonesian law allows parents to give religious guidance to their children.

Yonatan, Yosua, and Maria Tunbonat, aged 7, 10, and 12 respectively, were expelled in December 2018. However, the Administrative Court recognized that the children’s nonparticipation in the nationalistic ceremonies did not violate the Constitution or any law; nor was it a sign of disrespect for civic traditions or emblems.

We are pleased that the court rendered a decision that respects the children’s Bible-based convictions and allows them to continue their education. We hope that this decision will also benefit other Witness children in Indonesia who face similar challenges at school.