DUBLIN, June 8 (Compass Direct News) — A small crowd gathered to welcome Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun as they walked free from the Indramayu
district prison in West Java, Indonesia early this morning. They had served nearly two years of their three-year sentence.
The three women were arrested in May 2005 and sentenced to prison that
September for allowing Muslim children to attend their Sunday school program, even though the parents had consented to their children’s attendance. After several legal
appeals failed, the women were delighted to be granted an early release on parole
following international advocacy campaigns on their behalf.
Authorities quietly moved the release from 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. after Muslim
extremists said they would gather outside the prison to protest the reduced sentence.
During their trial in 2005, Muslim extremists had made murderous threats against the
three women within and outside the courtroom.
The Christian Peace and Prosperity Party sent two busloads of people to the
prison to ensure safety for the women. Supporters and a handful of local and international
journalists were also present to witness the release.