ASIA/INDONESIA - Not only bombs undermine peace in the Moluccas: history shows false news create hatred, tension and instability

Monday, 17 May 2004

Ambon (Fides Service) - Hatred and tension are created not only through violence and killing but also by spreading false information, undermining harmony, starting chain reactions, inciting communities against other communities with a different culture or faith. This happened recently in the Moluccas islands in Indonesia crossed by a new outbreak of violence between different communities after three years of conflict from 1999 to 2001.
This situation was denounced by the Crisis Centre of Amboina Catholic diocese which spoke of an anonymous letter- produced by provocateurs or fundamentalist groups anxious to rekindle the conflict in the Moluccas - circulated in the Muslim community in Ambon and said to be signed by the Christian community of Ambon. The letter calls on the Christian community to vote for a Christian candidate on the occasion of presidential elections in July so that “in the future Indonesia will be made Christian”. The Christian communities in Moluccas, Catholic and Protestant, have categorically denied authorship of the letter and denounced this serious falsity aimed at unleashing chaos, religious hatred and instability.
But the list of false information is long, the Amboina Crisis Centre told Fides. Other false reports include the news that 9 Muslims were massacred in Benjina village, Aru archipelago 600 km south east of Ambon and 7 more killed on a boat from Sorong, Papua, to Ambon.
Also false is the news of a secret meeting between the newly appointed local chief of police General Adita Warmabn, and Ja’far Umar Thalib, former leader of the fundamentalist Muslim group Laskar Jihad: the meeting was an informal gathering of Muslim religious leaders. Another false report, denounced by Karel Ralahalu, Moluccas governor, said that Christians killed a group of Muslims as they landed in Kupang the main city of West Timor, in retaliation for the massacre in Ambon of Christians coming from Kupang.
In the meantime although vice governor Mohammad Abdullah Latuconsina denied the presence of radical Muslim militia in Ambon, reliable Fides sources recently quoted eyewitnesses who had seen militias in the area. The same sources warn to be on guard against groups of fundamentalists and provocateur groups trying to trigger new clashes in these travailed islands of Moluccas.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/05/2004 Lines: 47 Words: 398)