Mass murder in Indonesia

Mass murder in Indonesia

Islamic Human Rights Commission
Mass murder in Indonesia
Date: 7th January 2000

Suggested Action
Please write to the Indonesian Ambassador in your country, and the President of Indonesia c/o the Embassy, demanding that the state intervene in the matter, and that those responsible be brought to justice. (If you need a specimen letter please contact IHRC)

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[Courtesy Association of Muslim Lawyers]
Another Bosnia Tragedy in Indonesia#
Republika*, Tuesday 4 January 2000
Three Villages Raided, Women Raped in Halmahera.
In a single night, 800 Muslims massacred

JAKARTA- The worst and the most heartbreaking human tragedy has occurred in North Maluku on 28 December 1999. Not less than 800 Muslim men in three villages in the district of Tobelo, Halmahera, North Maluku Province were massacred in a single night, while the women were raped in the streets.

Yesterday, Thamrin Amal Tomagola of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Indonesian University, said,” I was informed that some 80% of men living in three Muslim villages of Tobelo were massacred. Mr. Tomagola, who is a sociologist and was born in Galela, Halmahera, added that each of the villages was inhabited by around 200 to 300 family units. Therefore, the number of the Muslim men killed would be around 800. The massacre happened all of a sudden following social tension which has been escalating in North Halmahera.

According to the Vice President of Assembly of Muslim Scholars of Indonesia (Majelis Ulama Indonesia – MUI) H Adjit bin Taher, since the tension sparked up on 26 December 1999, nearly 2000 Muslims from Tobelo were killed and four mosques burnt down, including Islamic Affair Offices (Kantor Urusan
Agama-KUA) and all buildings associated with Islam. “Muslim women were also raped in the streets,” he said. In this region, Muslims were indeed minority. Out of 50000 Tobelo population, only 5000 are Muslims.

According to Thamrin, the indication that there would be attack on the Muslims in Tobelo was noticed on 25 December when there was a huge people gathering in Tobelo. The crowd came from some districts in North Halmahera and Ternate and the number reached about 10 to 20 thousands people.

Thamrin said that he did not know who provoked them to carry out the attack. “For sure, on 26 December 1999, they did the attack on the Muslim enclaves in the city of Tobelo after [Ramadan] break fast,” he told.
On 28 December 1999, he continued, a convoy of trucks laden with people were roaming the streets. They were thought to have come from groups of people who had celebrated Christmas in Tobelo on 25 December. They came not only from three districts in North Halmahera (namely Tobelo, Galela and Jailolo) but also from Kao and Pidiwang districts as well as Christians from Ternate
who had sought refuge in Tobelo.

When the convoy was underway, he said, the convoy leader kept agitating speech using a loud speaker mounted on the truck. The mobs on the trucks did no action when passing through Christian villages. But, he said, when coming to the Muslim areas, the mass immediately got off the trucks and then poured petrol on Muslims’ houses before set on fire. “In this situation, the inhabitants left the houses and went outside. And they [the Christians] then slain the men,” he said.

Apart from victimising Muslims, he added, the Christians also attacked the residents of Chinese origin. Both the Muslim and Chinese people who were under attack run toward Jami Mosque in Gamsuni Village and any mosque in Dufa-Dufa village seeking for refuge. Nonetheless, the Christian mass put the people who were inside the mosques under their siege. “They then poured the mosques with petrol and burnt the people inside alive,” he said.

Thamrin disclosed that since a sectarian conflict erupted in Makian Malifut district on 18 August 1999, the death toll has reached 2500 people. The tension that built up in North Halmahera started when Christian community in Kao expelled Muslim inhabitants of Makian Malifut from their villages to Ternate Island.

The Muslims then took revenge by driving out Christian inhabitants in Ternate who then took refuge in North Sulawesi and in majority-majority areas of North Halmahera. The social tension which has currently turned into inter-religious clashes in the upper part of the northern region of Halmahera island, Thamrin said, is the follow-up of the conflicts in Makian Malifut district on 18 August.

At present, Thamrin said, the Muslims in North Halmahera were besieged. They were driven out from Tobelo and Kao districts. Only around 3000 people remains in Galela district, where Muslims are majority, whereas some 5000 of the inhabitants have fled to Ternate. About 400 [Muslim] youths have determined to defend Soa Siu City. “Apart from that, Muslim enclaves in Jaelolo district are currently under siege by Christians,” he added.

The Indonesian Government and the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM): Too luggish…!!!!! Although the conflict in North Halmahera was extremely tragic, with thousands of people dead, Thamrin sees the Government being too slow in giving response. Indonesian Army (Tentara National Indonesia-TNI), Thamrin admitted, reacted quickly by sending additional troops from Malang, Solo and
Madiun. But, he continued, no real help from Government has been given to deal with the social atastrophe in the region. “I have not seen any proper coordination and arrangement from the Government. Indeed, the real aids came from local NGOs,” said Thamrin.

Furthermore, Thamrin was also dismayed by Komnas HAM which was less responsive with this extraordinary human right violation in North Halmahera. To illustrate the enormous scale of the human right violation, Thamrin mentioned that the conflict has been going on for about five months, yet the
dead victims have reached 2500; whereas Ambon conflict [which is relatively longer] caused merely 1200 people died. “Komnas HAM just came over during the first conflict on 18 August 1999, but they did not even set up a special team [to investigate the following] conflicts on 26 November and end of December 1999,” he said.

From the reports he continuously receives, Thamrin said that hostility is still there despite of the deployment of additional troops. Muslim mujahideen have now gathered around the corridor regions of North Halmahera to launch a counter attack. They came from Tidore, Ternate, Bacan, Sanana, Galela and South Halmahera. “The Government must set up immediately a special team for and investigate this grotesque human rights violation. It has become a tragedy for humanity,” he stressed.

Pangdam XVI/Pattimura (=the Army Chief for Maluku Province), TNI Brigade General Max Tamaela, the Chief Commander for restoring peace and public order, has vowed to leave his position if he cannot stop this prolonged bloodshed. “I am ready to run the risk [of being sacked from my position] as a Pangdam [in my effort] to stop this human tragedy,” he said in Ambon this Monday.

The instruction letter of Kodal numbered TR/1291/1999, dated 28 December 1999 was implemented on the following Wednesday morning, 29 December 1999. The letter mentioned that the Indonesian Army Chief had granted permission to allow additional troops when, based on evaluation in the field, the personnel already deployed were felt insufficient to stop the clashes and restore the peace and order.

“So, looking at the nature of the present conflicts, it seemed necessary to crush the attackers, regardless who are they since the facts have told that non-violence and negotiation approaches are not welcomed by the two sides.

Meanwhile, Sultan Baabulah Airport in Ternate was closed temporarily since Monday to anticipate any situation caused by the series of sectarian conflicts that have occurred in North Maluku since last week.[END]

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