Support for Maluku Christians continues

The Indonesian government has continued to impose a civil emergency status in Maluku and North Maluku that began nine months ago due to the prolonged clashes which have claimed about 8,000 lives. The civil emergency will continue at least until June.

While often contributing to the problem, the continued presence of the military in the islands of Maluku is welcomed by International Christian Concern who is assisting in efforts to evacuate more than 6,000 Christians who remain in jihad controlled villages. Even though some of the military units have assisted the jihad warriors in committing crimes against the Christians, they still serve as a deterrent to further violence. All the Christians who remain hostage to the jihad warriors are located on the islands of North Maluku and most were made to convert to Islam. The majority of the Christians, including women and children as young as one month, were forcibly circumcised. Many suffered from infection as a result of non sterile scissors and razor blades used in the circumcisions.

Government officials, police and military commanders who make up the civil emergency committee (DARSIP) in the provinces of Maluku and North Maluku have agreed that the situation is yet volatile. In a meeting on April 6 with national leaders in Jakarta, North Maluku Governor M. Muhyi Effendi said that he could not guarantee the some 170,000 refugees in his province would be safe to return home. The military and police commanders in North Maluku agreed with the Governor. Therefore, the governors of the two provinces said that in view of potential conflicts and refugee problems, it was deemed necessary to extend the civil emergency status in the troubled Maluku and North Maluku provinces. According to both governors, "The situation in Maluku is getting back to normal and clashes have decreased. But, there are some indications that conflict may still erupt in the province."

The jihad attackers have changed their tactics. In recent days, they arrive in numbers around 30, wearing battle-fatigue uniforms instead of the usual white robes and head bands. They come brandishing automatic weapons and the attacks seem to be well planned. According to the spokesman for the Maluku Civil Emergency Authority, Major Marthen Luther Djari, "The rioters have changed their attack pattern. They used to attack a large number of people of a village, but now they attack a smaller group of people, a family or individual.

Major Djari reported that in Ambon, capital of Maluku, four people were reported missing from the village of Kase in Buru island after an attack on by an armed group on Sunday, April 1. Several days later, one of the victims was found dead. The man was identified as Yusuf Lesnussa, 23. The whereabouts of the other three, identified as Theresa Dias Leskona, 37, and her two children, 3-year-old Yongky Leskona and 5-year-old Alvin Leskona, remained unclear.
According to Maluku Governor Saleh Latuconsina, the riot and violence escalation had decreased since DARSIP was applied. Christians argue that this is only because there are no people left to attack or those who are left are being held prisoners.

Speaking separately, acting spokesman for the Pattimura Military Command Maj. Herry Suhardi said there would be massive withdrawal and replacement of military personnel deployed in Maluku in June. Meanwhile, the survivors of the atrocities throughout the Malukan islands are suffering. There are serious housing problems. In North Maluku there are at least 197,000 refugees. About 20,000 houses have been destroyed. There is an immediate need for food for at least three months before the refugees can try to stand on their own.

Furthermore, the government nor the military are willing to address or admit to the problem that there are more than 6,000 Christians' lives at risk who continue to be held against their will in villages controlled by radical Muslims. International Christian Concern is continuing its efforts in Maluku to rescue and evacuate the Christian hostages, many of whom are children. Many more children remain missing after being abducted by the jihad raiders.

International Christian Concern, April 17, 2001

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