Right now the media are dominated by talk
of war with Iraq. So thatís what we talk about, and if we have a weblog
thatís likely what weíre writing about, and if we surf the net itís probably
what we read about.
That might be good news for Indonesia,
where Christians have been under attack from militant Islamic groups in
various parts of the country. But more likely it is bad news.
The good? With people in Indonesia
distracted by the Mideast debate (tunnel vision isnít restricted to those of
us in the West) the Indonesian government can quietly have its armed forces
move in and clamp down on the militants.
Unfortunately, given the fact that the
Indonesian military has not been brought to account for one of last
centuryís worst genocides Ė against the Christians of East Timor Ė the
prospects are not good.
Indeed, reports are that the onslaught
against Indonesian Christians
I have just received the latest email
Cry Indonesia. The details arenít up on their website yet, so, to try to
give them wider circulation, here are some excerpts:
In the last four weeks there have been serious and concerning developments
in East Indonesia. Even in the last 24 hours the situation in some areas is
being described as a crisis and Christian leaders are appealing for prayers
and international assistance!
The Jakarta Post reports that on
Saturday morning 27 July, a large homemade bomb exploded in a crowded market
in a Christian neighbourhood of Ambon close to Pattimura University.
Fifty-three people were injured, many critically. This follows on from other
incidents in April where 17 Christians were killed and 58 injured in
marketplace bombings and attacks on villages in and around Ambon.
From June 29 until now there has been a
renewed outbreak of violence in this area [Tobelo, North Maluku]. Jihad
terrorists, together with men dressed in ninja outfits, have been
responsible for terrorising the Christian community raising grave concerns
for security in the area. Even refugees that have been housed in barracks in
so called 'safe areas' have been intimidated by the sounds of bombs and gun
battles nearby. In all there have been no less than 24 critical incidents
between June 29 and August 7th, the latest incident being the most serious.
After several days of
small-scale attacks since last Saturday, August 5, this morning there was an
escalation in the terrorist attacks against the Christian community. On
Saturday evening (4th) between the villages of Luari and Ruko,
the Loba area was rocked by the explosion of bombs. On Sunday morning (5th)
in the village of Mede, the church building of the Evangelical Church of
Halmahera, the manse and several homes of Christians who are currently
seeking refuge in Tobelo were destroyed. The destruction took place near the
Brawijaya military post.
Today, Wednesday, at 6.30 am
(7th) 220 Marines arrived in Galela to replace the Brawijaya troops who are
being transferred to the island of Morotai. While the transfer of power
ceremony was underway at 9.30 am news arrived of attacks underway in the
villages of Wari and Gorua. The attacks had begun at 9.00 am. The ceremony
was immediately cancelled and the troops were deployed to repel the attacks.
Jihad forces from the
village of Gorua, fully equipped with military standard weapons, began their
attack at 9.00 am attacking the village of Wari, even though there were
Brawijaya troops stationed there. The Center for Community Research,
Training and Development (PPLPP) run by the Evangelical Church of Halmahera
was burned down. Three offices and the Technical College were burned, with
all the studentsí documentation and office equipment and computers.
Across the road from the
PPLPP complex three refugee barracks, for refugees from the village of Weda
and 14 homes of Christians were also burned. At the same time in the village
of Gorua 4 homes and 2 kiosks belonging to Christians were also burned. In
the course of the attack school children were taken hostage but were later
freed by the military. One Christian was shot and is currently being treated
in the Bethesda Hospital in Tobelo.
After the gun battle had
been going on for about 30 minutes, the jihad forces were repelled and
pushed back to the village of Popilo. The defensive operation was still in
progress when this report was filed.
Christian Aid Mission
reports that on Monday, July 22, three Christians were shot while working in
their rice fields near Pendolo, 20 miles south of Tentena, Central Sulawesi.
Pendolo is a city populated mainly by trans-migrant Muslims from Lombok
Island. While traveling by motorcycle to visit the wounded, several family
members were confronted by a large unruly mob that took two of them captive.
The victims were stabbed and stoned and suffered machete cuts and cigarette
On Sunday, August 4, at 3:30
a.m. a force of about 100 Islamic radicals wearing black ninja outfits
crying "Allahu Akbar!" attacked the Christian village of Matako, about 20
miles east of Poso in "a blaze of fire, bullets and bombs," according to one
report. One pastor watched from hiding as his church building was bombed and
set on fire and members of his congregation shot at. One man was shot in the
back as he fled.
During the attack many
people escaped to the local military post-but their presence prevented
members of the military from pursuing the attackers. A second church was
attacked and damaged, and at least a half-dozen homes were destroyed.
Then today Aug 8 we received
a report from the Crisis Centre in Sulawesi that Christians in Tentena are
in a high state of alert after Jihad forces were said to be advancing toward
their town in which 65,000 Christian residents reside. At Ranononcu bridge
(5 km from Poso direction to Tentena), since 4 pm, people can hear gunshots
and bomb blasts repeatedly coming from Poso area near to the bridge. (This
is the place where Christians managed to stop the Laskar Jihad attempt to
attack Tentena in November 18, 2001). The military have advised local
Christian groups that there is nothing they can do except wait for orders
from their superiors!!
Mona from the crisis centre
"Please keep praying for
these people for not to have another battle. While typing this, a call just
coming saying that the attackers are shootings their guns all the time and
bomb repeating explosions could be heard very near to the village. The
Christians have not done anything but just keep watching and alert for any
situation might come!! O God, please hear our prayers."
Those who can support, or
who wish more information, can contact Cry Indonesia at email@example.com.