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Cry Indonesia – The Tunnel of Despair Continues
In our media-drenched world most of us have developed tunnel vision. And unfortunately it’s too often a tunnel that stretches between our brain and the television set (or for some us, the computer screen). We let the media dictate our priorities.
Right now the media are dominated by talk of war with Iraq. So that’s what we talk about, and if we have a weblog that’s likely what we’re writing about, and if we surf the net it’s 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 isn’t 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 century’s worst genocides – against the Christians of East Timor – the prospects are not good.
Indeed, reports are that the onslaught against Indonesian Christians continues.
I have just received the latest email alert from Cry Indonesia. The details aren’t 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 students’ 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 burns.
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 adds:
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.