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indonesia - Appeal on the situation in the Malukus

13 July 2000

Letter to H.E. Mrs Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 13 July 2000.

Dear Madame,

The World Council of Churches is concerned at the increase in violence in the Malukus region that has resulted in scores of people being killed and properties belonging to Christians, including church buildings and schools, destroyed. The state of Civil Emergency declared on 27 June by the Government of Indonesia has failed to stop the death and destruction taking place. The situation is particularly precarious in Ambon, Halmahera and Poso. We have received regular information from our member churches and from the Communion of Churches in Indonesia about these attacks on Christians and their establishments by armed religious zealots from Java. In the face of this onslaught, many Christian villages have been forced to evacuate for security reasons. There is a complete breakdown of law and order.

The Indonesian military personnel who have the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the citizens and their properties have miserably failed in discharge of their duties. In fact, some members of the security forces are alleged to have joined hands with the intruders in attacks against Christians.

The World Council of Churches has, on several occasions in the past, brought to the attention of the Indonesian Government the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Malukus. Despite assurances of the Government of Indonesia that measures were being taken to restore law and order, the situation has failed to improve. The Council has just received reports that Waai and Batugandung in Ambon have been subjected to mortar attacks by the intruders supported and backed by the personnel of the Indonesian military. In Batugandung seven people have lost their lives. There are reliable reports of an imminent attack on Tobelo in the coming days.

It is now two weeks since the Indonesian Government declared a state of Civil Emergency, an action of extreme measure, to control the violence in the Malukus, but it continues unabated resulting in grave and serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The recent attacks of the intruders indicate a design to annihilate Christians or force them out of the Malukus. To save the Christian community from this ordeal church leaders in the region have been constrained to call on their followers to evacuate their homes and move to secure areas.

Given the gravity of the situation, the World Council of Churches appeals to you to undertake an immediate visit to Indonesia and urge the Government to stop the human rights violations and atrocities being committed in the Malukus by intruders backed and supported by the Indonesian army. The Indonesian Government should be asked to take steps to effectively stop the entry of intruders into the Malukus region. The Government should also immediately bring to trial those guilty of committing human rights violations.


                                                                                                                                              Konrad Raiser 
                                                                                                                 General Secretary