Ambon (Fides Service) – Pattimura state university in Ambon, capital of the Moluccas province of Indonesia, will resume normal academic activity in the coming month of August. The Indonesian Minister for Social Affairs Yusuf Kalla who recently visited Ambon announced this.
The Christian community in the Moluccas Island is happy for this event which is an important sign of a return to normality on Ambon island disrupted by three years 1999-2202 with clashes between the local Protestant Christians and Muslims in which some 15,000 people died and 500,000 were made homeless. “At present in Ambon city peopel circulate freely” Father Carl Bohm of Amboina Diocese Crisis Centre tells Fides Service. “Christians and Muslims move from their respective quarters without difficulty. The only dangerous areas are a few place where there are still some groups of extremists.”
Mostly Christian students and teachers attended Pattimura University. On July 4, 2000, despite the state of emergency in Ambon, the campus situated on the outskirts of the city was burned. The fire destroyed the faculty of Law; the rector’s residence, the library and many class rooms as well as the adjoining Christian church. The Muslims saw the university as a Christian means to dominate cultural and political life in the Moluccas. After the campus was destroyed there was a polemic because eyewitnesses said that the rioters were left to sack and shoot undisturbed while the security forces failed to intervene. PA (Fides Service 21/5/2003 EM lines 21 Words: 253)