[Statement] Bishop Joseph D’Souza Joins UN in Calling for the Release of Jakarta’s Christian Governor

HYDERABAD, India — The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza, moderating bishop of the Good Shepherd Church of India and president of the All India Christian Council, joins the recent call of U.N. advocates for freedom of religion and expression urging the Indonesian government to release Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the first Christian governor of Jakarta. Purnama was recently convicted of blasphemy against Islam by Jakarta’s High Court after pressure from hard-line Islamic groups.

“Indonesia stands at a crossroads: either she will shine as South Asia’s true pioneer for diversity and freedom, or she will succumb to the regressive forces of discrimination and intolerance. And she must choose one and act quickly, because Basuki Purnama’s incarceration—after he had become the first Christian governor of Jakarta—is a tragic betrayal of the promise for ‘Unity in Diversity’ the government had made to its people. As such, the world should not tolerate another single day he serves an unjust sentence in jail.

“I join the U.N. in calling for his immediate release, and I ask the Indonesian government to please return Purnama to his wife and children.”

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Photos of Dr. D’Souza are available here.

Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza is the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the President of the All India Christian Council.  He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a human rights activist. He is also the founder and International President of the Dalit Freedom Network. He can be reached at: moderator@gsoim.org. Additional biographical information is available here.