In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

Muslims in Indonesia!

Nowadays, being a Muslim is becoming a liability and a life hazard! Read the following disturbing news from Indonesia..

Halmahera Still Bleeding
2,080 Muslim souls died
Reporter: D. Sangga Buwana

detikcom - Jakarta, The Team for Relief and Rehabilitation of Riot Victims in North Halmahera (TPRKKHU) announced that up to Monday (3 Jan 2000), the number of Muslims who died in ethnic and religious conflict in Halmahera has reached 2,080 and 200 others are wounded.

TPRKKHU Coordinator H Husein Alham said "Violence towards Muslims by Christian groups in North Halmahera occurs not only towards the men. More sickening is the violence towards women, children and elderly."

Husein said as many as 250 women, children and elderly in the district of Tobelo were put inside Masjid Jami (Jami mosque) and were burned alive. In the villages of Gurua, Popilo and Luari, Muslims were butchered and the corpses were thrown along the village streets.

Husein received this report from a member of medical team sent from Jakarta that arrived on location 4 days ago.

The Muslim cleansing in North Halmahera, Husein said, was not only directed towards the Muslims who are native there, but also to other Indonesian Muslims. Two trucks ridden by Bugis natives trying to escape through Sidangoli were also burned by the Christian group. "Javanese and Minang natives were targets as well", Husein said.

Till now, Husein said, about 10,000 refugees are still left and trapped inside the barrack of Group C Battalion 732 Banau in Tobelo and in the village of Soasio, Galela District, North Halmahera.

5,000 other refugees, consisting of women, children and elderly, have been evacuated to Ternate and Tidore by motor boat Lumbellu on Sunday evening (2 Jan 2000), Husein said.

If the number were added to 12,000 Muslim refugees from ethnic Makian who had already come there, the total Muslim refugees in South Ternate and Tidore reach about 17,000 souls, Husein added.

Three Villages Were Attacked, Women Were Raped In Halmahera, In One Night 800 Muslims Were Butchered.

Jakarta -- This is the largest and saddest tragedy of humanity in North Maluku. Not less than 800 adult Muslim men were butchered in only one night in three villages in the district of Tobelo, Halmahera, Province of North Maluku. Meanwhile, women were raped on the streets.

This genocidic tragedy of humanity occurred on December 28, 1999, in the villages of Gurua, Popelo and Luari. "It was reported that 80 percent of adult men in three Muslim areas in Tobelo were butchered," said Thamrin Amal Tomagola, a sociologist at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) at the University of Indonesia (UI), who is a native of Galela, Halmahera, yesterday.

Every village, Thamrin continued, was inhabited by about 200 to 300 households. "Thus, the number of adult men butchered was about 800," he said. "Such genocide happened so suddenly, following social tension enveloping North Halmahera," he added.

According to the vice-chair of the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars (MUI=Majelis Ulama Indonesia) for North Maluku, H. Adjit bin Taher, since the tension developed on 26 December 1999, almost as many as 2,000 Tobelo Muslims were butchered and four masjids (mosques) were burned. Many buildings of the Office for Religious Matters and almost all facilities related to Islam were also burned. "Muslim women were raped on the streets," he said. In this area, Muslims are minorities. >From the 50 thousand population of Tobelo, only five thousand profess Islam.

According to Thamrin, signs of attack towards Muslims in Tobelo were seen on 25 December when a large mob gathered in Tobelo. Other mobs >from several districts in North Halmahera and Ternate contributed 10 thousand to 20 thousand people.

Thamrin said he did not know who provoked them to attack Muslim areas in Tobelo. "For certain, on 26 December 1999, they attacked Muslim areas in Tobelo after break of fasting," he said.

On 28 December 1999, Thamrin said, trucks of mobs converged on the streets. They were presumed to be the group who celebrated Christmas in Tobelo on 25 December. The mob not only came from the three districts in North Halmahera, namely Tobelo, Galela and Jailili, but also came >from the districts of Kao, Pidiwang, and the Christians in Ternate who fled to Tobelo.

During the convoy, Thamrin continued, mob leaders continued agitating using loudspeaker from the top of the truck. The mobs did not do anything when they passed Christian villages but when they passed Muslim villages, the mobs got off the trucks. They poured fuel on people's houses and burned them. "That's when people ran outside of their homes and the mobs killed the adult men," he said.

Besides attacking the Muslim population, Thamrin added, the Christian population also attacked people of ethnic Chinese. The cornered Muslims and Chinese ran to Masjid Jami (Jami Mosque) in the village of Gamsuni and to a Masjid in the village of Dufa-Dufa to seek protection. But the mobs surrounded the people in the masjid. "They poured the mosque with fuel and burned the people inside it alive. This tragedy killed about 250 people," he said.

Thamrin said since the ethnic and religious conflict broke out in the district of Makian Malifut on 18 August 1999, the death toll has reached 2,500 people. The tension in North Halmahera started when Christian Kao villagers succeeded in driving Muslim Makian Malifut villagers out of their villages to the island of Ternate.

As a retaliation, Muslim villagers drove Christian villagers out of Ternate and they fled to North Sulawesi and to North Halmahera where the majority are Christians. This social conflict turned into religious conflict on the northern tip of the island of Halmahera, Thamrin said, as a continuation of the conflict in the district of Makian Malifut on 18 August.

Now, Thamrin said, Muslim villagers in North Halmahera are cornered. They were driven out of Tobelo and Kao districts. Only about 3,000 people still survive in Galela district, which has a Muslim majority. About 5,000 people fled to Ternate. 400 young men, Thamrin said, vowed to defend Kota Soa Siu. "Beside that, Muslim villages in the district of Jaelolo are now surrounded by Christian villagers," he added.

The Government and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Are Slow.

Even though the tragic social conflict in North Halmahera has caused loss of thousands of lives, Thamrin sees a very slow response from the central government in anticipating this problem. TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces), Thamrin acknowledged, did immediately send additional troops >from Malang, Solo and Madiun. But, he continued, there is no real help >from the civil government to solve the social problem in the area. "I have not seen any coordination or proper planning by the civil government. Instead, relief came from local NGO's," he said.

Beside the sluggish response from civil government, Thamrin also regrets the irresponsiveness of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to the extraordinary violation of human rights in North Halmahera.

To describe the severity of human rights violation in North Halmahera, Thamrin reminded that the new conflict only occurred in the last five months and the victims already amounted to 2,500 people. By contrast, the conflict in Ambon claimed 1,200 lives within the period of one year. "Komnas HAM only visited during the first conflict on 18 August 1999. During the conflict on 26 November 1999 and the end of December 1999 they did not form any special team [to come here]," he said.

>From reports he continuously received, Thamrin said tension kept occurring in North Halmahera despite additional troops. Jihad teams >from the Muslim group now gather on the rim of North Halmahera to prepare counter attacks. They came from Tidore, Ternate, Bacan, Sanana, Galela, and South Halmahera. "The government must create a special team to investigate such massive violation of human rights. This has become a tragedy for humanity," he said.

In this matter, Commander of Military Area XVI/Pattimura Brigadier General Max Tamaela, as the Commander-in-Charge (Kodal) for the public safety and order (Kamtibum), said that he will bet his job to stop the ethnic religious conflict. "I bet my position as Commander to stop this prolonged conflict. That was also the order from the Commander of Armed Forces to stop this tragedy of humanity," he said in Ambon on Monday.

Letter of transfer of Commander-in-Charge numbered TR/1291/1999 dated 28 December was enacted Wednesday morning (29 December) around 06.00 Eastern Indonesian Time. Commander of Armed Forces was told to give permission to request additional troops if a field evaluation required it, in order to stop the conflict.

"Having observed the latest development in the conflict, it is deemed necessary to conduct pacification regardless of who the attackers are, because in reality, persuasion and negotiation were not obeyed by the two groups," he said.

Meanwhile, Sultan Babullah Ternate airport is temporarily closed since Monday for commercial flights in anticipation of any possibility from the ethnic religious riot which has swamped North Maluku since last week.