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Expression of concern on religious violence in the Malukus region

05 May 2004

Letter to H.E. Megawati Soekarnoputri, President of the Republic of Indonesia, 5 May,
2004


Your Excellency,

The World Council of Churches has received with dismay and concern reports
of the outbreak of violence and conflict between Muslims and Christians in the
Malukus region since 25 April. As a result of the ongoing violence over 33 people
have lost their lives and 238 people have been injured.

These events have come after a period of relative calm and inter-communal harmony
between Muslims and Christians in the region. The member churches of
the World Council of Churches have all along striven for peace and reconciliation
between the two communities and in this connection have consistently promoted
inter-religious dialogue, through the Communion of Churches in Indonesia,
particularly in the Malukus region. It is important that these efforts do not suffer
a setback because of actions of a few extremists on both sides of the religious
divide.

We are particularly concerned by the attacks and acts of arson at the Indonesian
Christian University in the Malukus that have resulted in the complete destruction
of 16 lecture rooms that catered to the faculties of Theology, Civil Engineering,
Economics as well as Social and Political Sciences. Priceless collections of books
accumulated over many years, including the Maluccana and Idonesiana collec-
tions, have been completely gutted as a result of the attack on the university
library.

According to the reports received by us, much of the damage and spread of violence
could have been avoided if the Indonesian Security Forces were vigilant and
had taken timely action against the miscreants. Your Excellency will appreciate
that it is the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia to maintain law and
order and to provide security to the people in the country, particularly in a region
like the Malukus where inter-religious tensions run high.

The World Council of Churches supports the call of the Moderator of the
Protestant Church in the Malukus, Rev. Dr I.W.J. Hendriks and Msgr P.C. Mandagi
MSC, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ambonia, that the Indonesian Government
take immediate steps to put an end to the violence in the Malukus. The Government
should also encourage and support peace-building efforts of churches and civil
society groups that are endeavouring to promote inter-religious harmony in the
region.

As we make this plea to you, we uphold Muslims and Christians in our intercessions
and pray for peace and reconciliation in the Malukus.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary