Press Release January 30, 2002
Crossing the Bridge
China Resumes Persecution of Christians
A Hong Kong Christian and businessman has been arrested by the Chinese authorities on charges of "assisting an evil cult." Li Guangquiang, 38, was arrested after being caught trying to deliver 16,000 Bibles to a Christian sect called the "Shouters," a house church movement numbering about 500,000. Li has also been accused of transporting about 17,000 Bibles in April. The Shouters is one among many house church organizations that for decades has refused to join the state-controlled church, therefore labeled as an "evil cult" by the Chinese government. Groups like the Shouters have also been outlawed because of their contacts with western Christians.
Hopes Dashed For Promised Release Of Detained Christians In Saudi Arabia
Health Concerns Mount as Prison Conditions Worsen
Recent news about the promised "release" of nine of the fourteen Christians detained in Saudi Arabia has taken another turn for the worse. Early today, ICC received word from sources in Jeddah that the nine detained being held at the Trahyl Deportation Center are discouraged and very concerned.
New Year Greeted With Bomb Blasts In Indonesia
Bombs exploded in four churches in Palu, Central Sulawesi, shattering the welcomed peaceful calm that the Christians enjoyed this past Christmas season. The Christian minority, estimated to be about 15% of the population, packed churches in record numbers throughout Indonesia to celebrate Christmas. The bombings in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, appear to have been carried out by Muslim terrorists in retaliation of their thwarted plans in which they had threatened a "bloody Christmas" for tens of thousands of Christians in the Poso region. A year ago, during Christmas Eve services in Jakarta and nine other cities, bomb explosions took the lives of 19 people.
REPORT December 26, 2001
INDONESIA: "BLOODY CHRISTMAS" AVERTED
Indonesia's Christians filled churches in record numbers during Christmas services this week as the threat of a "Bloody Christmas" passed without incident. Unlike the past two years, no churches were bombed in Jakarta or any other cities. Attacks against Christian villages in central Sulawesi and the Malukan islands have, at least for now, subsided. We praise God for His answer to the prayers of Christians throughout the world who responded to the call for help following an ICC trip to the Poso region on the island of Sulawesi at the end of November. As many as 15,000 armed "Jihad" militants were threatening to "kill all the Christians." At least 21 villages were attacked, looted and burned by mostly Muslims militants who claimed to be members of the Laskar Jihad. ICC president Steven Snyder witnessed wide-spread destruction along the road to Tentena, a city of 63,000. Nearly half the population of Tentena consists of refugees from within the Poso region. In early December, Christians in Tentena were under siege and had no way of defending themselves as they awaited for what seemed to them to be inevitable - the imminent destruction and slaughter of thousands of men, women and children. The Christians were surrounded and had no way of escape. Along the road to Tentena, "Jihad" checkpoints had been set up by the Laskar Jihad, with many bearing photos of Osama bin Laden with inscriptions saying "Our Leader." Fortunately, in early December, the Indonesian government ordered 4,000 military troops into the Poso region earlier this month, which was the first indication that the government may be willing to help stop terrorism from spreading inside the country. However, the supreme commander of the Laskar Jihad, Jafar Umar Thalib has had direct contact with Afghanistan militants and he has gone unpunished for his role in inciting Muslims to join the attacks against the Christians. Thalib had trained with the Taliban in the 1980's in Afghanistan. This past summer, Thalib received a guest from the Taliban at his headquarters in Ambon and introduced him to the Governor of Ambon, Governor Latuconsinia. It has become more clear recently weeks that Thalib shares the ideological beliefs of bin Laden, which includes establishing in Indonesia an Islamic state with laws based on strict Islamic laws. Nevertheless, the majority of Indonesia's Christians are opposed to the ambitions of Thalib and other Muslim militants. Approximately 85 percent of Indonesia's population of 210 million people are Muslim, with the vast majority holding moderate views.
Campaign of Terrorism in Indonesia
SOME ENCOURAGING NEWS FROM POSO/TENTENA, INDONESIA
In response to Christians responding to a call to prayer and advocacy, many elected officials have been contacted and there have been encouraging signs that, at least for now, the looming threat against the more than 63,000 Christians of the Tentena area has been averted. While the threat of a massive attack and great loss of life still remains, recent action on the part of the Indonesian government appears to have, at least for the moment, thwarted the plans of the jihad forces.
Campaign of Terrorism in Indonesia
Terrorism and Turmoil in Poso
The following is a report by an ICC special envoy to Poso, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on November 18-22 on a fact-finding mission and to deliver aid to the beleaguered Christians under attack by Jihad terrorists.
OUR PURPOSE: "Remembering those ill-treated" Hebrews 13:3
Our decision to travel to the Jihad conflict zone of Central Sulawesi was not made in haste, but instead with much prayer and consideration. Many well-intentioned friends had suggested that we were crazy to even consider the idea at all. The U.S. State Department advisory reports had strongly urged Americans to stay out of Indonesia, which came as no surprise to us. Nevertheless, one of my primary reasons for founding International Christian Concern was for the very reason that too often missionaries abandon Christians living in areas where conflicts arise, resulting in our persecuted brothers and sisters feeling abandoned and neglected. It is hard to relay the suffering within our body (I Corinthians 12:26) if we can't at least touch that part of the body at their time of greatest need. Therefore, we felt compelled to go.
We left our somewhat secure lodging in Manado, North Sulawesi, on November 18th and flew to Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi. On our first day in Central Sulawesi, we traveled 3 hours by car to the Napu Valley to the villages of Wanga and Siliwanga where 20 families (110 people) have resettled following Jihad attacks on their villages. As we talked with some of the 50 recent arrivals, we learned more about the current dangers in the Poso area. The road from Palu to Poso and Tentena has been completely taken over by the Jihad.
The refugees, having fled with only the clothes on their backs, displayed a resolute spirit. In recent months, simple wooden homes were erected for the 20 families on small plots of land donated by the local government, enabling them to become somewhat self-reliant. After providing some money to help the refugee families, and spending some time eating and praying with them, we drove the three hours back to Palu.
A PATH OF DESTRUCTION
The next morning we set out toward Poso and Tentena after making the final arrangements with our military escorts that would be traveling with us. We first stopped in Palu to meet with Chief of Police for Intelligence for Central Sulawesi, R. Erold. He provided two Muslim guards to travel with us as part of the security convoy that would be accompanying us to Tentena and back. In addition to the two Muslim guards, we were provided six police guards by Major Victor Batara of the National Police Force. With four vehicles in our convoy, we would be driving through hostile territory where the Jihad warriors have been attacking and destroying Christian villages. On the return trip from Tentena to Palu, Major Batara was also part of our convoy. A security escort is essential for travel in the Poso region, for we would be driving through hostile territory where the Jihad warriors have been attacking and destroying Christian villages and pulling Christians from vehicles traveling the same route, killing some of them.
Our eight-man escort was comprised of members of what is called "BRIMOB," short for Mobile Brigade. BRIMOB is Indonesia's special forces unit which is used primarily for responding to civil crisis situations. The partially armed escort provided us with somewhat of a level of security, but it likely would provide little protection if we were to come under attack by the Jihad. The Poso area, after all, has become a breeding ground for thousands of Jihad terrorists.
The tension in the air seemed more pronounced once we reached Poso. The population of Poso had dropped from over 30,000 to about 5,000 because of the attacks by Muslim Jihad terrorists that began in December 1998. We were told that at least 1,000 members of the Laskar Jihad were now in Poso and that no Christians remained, for they all had been forced to flee at the risk of being killed.
When we stopped to get fuel in Poso, we saw several Muslim men toting automatic weapons. We anxiously waited for our police escorts to finish fueling the vehicles while we stayed hidden behind the tinted windows of our vehicle in order to not draw attention to ourselves. Our guards said that the station was blockaded and that Christians were not allowed to purchase fuel. All fuel - gasoline, kerosene, diesel etc. - was forbidden to be delivered to Tentena, for an embargo had been put in place by the Jihad. The Jihad had threatened the officials of the Petrofina Oil Company that they would be killed if they delivered any more fuel supplies to Tentena. Even though the community in Tentena had paid for three tanker loads of fuel, the Petrofina officials were refusing to deliver the fuel for fear of their lives. Major Batara warned Petrofina that he could no longer provide protection for the fuel storage tanks in Poso if fuel that had already been paid for was not delivered to Tentena. The blockade of fuel to Tentena has caused a great hardship to the Christian community with the cost of fuel, including cooking fuel, having risen 300% in recent months. There are further concerns that the Laskar Jihad will cut off other needed basic supplies.
In recent weeks, the same route we were traveling had been attacked several times and Christians were dragged from vehicles and killed. One 15-year-old boy had been traveling in a bus with his mother when a band of Jihad warriors stopped the bus and dragged him into the jungle, never to be seen again. Unknown to us, just four miles from where we were passing the village of Kasiguncu, a man was shot and killed. Also, ahead of us a gun battle was raging across the road as the Jihad were trying to cross a strategic bridge in Lembomawo to cross into the Christian village of Ranononcu on the main road to Tentena.
To give further evidence to the danger of traveling in this region, while in Tentena we visited the hospital where we met another victim whose leg was needing to be amputated following wounds he suffered after the bus in which he had been riding came under attack by a band of Jihad terrorists.
The next three hours of driving would be equally as tense. We drove through village after village and witnessed the carnage left in the wake of the nighttime raids of the Laskar Jihad. A few Muslim families had appeared to have taken up residency in the least damaged homes that once belonged to Christian families. Otherwise, almost every home in the once Christian villages had been burned to the ground or severely damaged. As we passed through one village after another we saw the visible burned-out remains of homes, churches and businesses. One could only imagine the once vibrant communities that had previously existed.
As we entered the war zone we were struck by the number of Jihad posts we saw along the road. Some blatantly displayed signs that proclaimed the name of the terrorist organization "Laskar Jihad," with each displaying the Jihad flag, a black flag with Arabic writing on it. Each Jihad post had posters of Osama Bin Laden, some with writing underneath his picture saying "THIS IS OUR LEADER." Young Muslim men, most were armed, guarded these posts to inspect passing vehicles to see if they were occupied by Christians. Identity papers were being searched and if you were a Christian, then you would be in danger of summary execution. The fact that we were in a military convoy may have prevented us from being stopped by the Jihad. What once were military posts along the route were now empty. We were told that just two months earlier there had been a high presence of military at all of the guard posts - and no Jihad posts. Their presence now served as a clear reminder of the present danger and as to who is now in control of these villages. The military had subsequently been withdrawn from nearly all Christian villages and road-side security posts.
Along the roadside we also witnessed the remains of the destruction to the Christian villages that had been recently destroyed during the months of October and November 2001, adding to the thousands of homes along the road that were destroyed in the months of May and June 2000. We saw the horrific destruction levied against entire Christian communities along the 30 miles we traveled of the 70-mile-long path of destruction that lies north of Tentena. Along this path of destruction we observed hundreds of homes, churches, and businesses that have been burned to the ground. Muslim communities we passed through displayed little or no destruction.
As we drew closer to the town of Tentena we saw evidence of the increase in the number of refugees who have fled from the path of the advancing Jihad. In the village of Pandiri there were 843 new refugees representing a total of 193 families from the village of Malitu, which was destroyed on October 31, 2001. It was eerie how the roads and villages were absolutely deserted.
Rarely did we pass another vehicle on the highway, which serves as the primary trade route between northern and southern Sulawesi. The dramatic increase in the number of attacks on buses and cars traveling between Poso and Tentena has understandably reduced the flow of traffic.
When we reached Tentena we learned from Police Major Batara that he personally had been stopped at a Jihad post while traveling alone and was made to kneel and was frisked, despite the fact that he was in full uniform and was armed. We learned from Major Batara, as well as from others, that currently there are thousands of Jihad terrorists in the surrounding area, with as many as 15,000 Jihad forces in total.
The area of Tentena consists of five counties that are under the security protection of the BRIMOB under the leadership of Major Batara. He oversees one of four districts within Central Sulawesi. The population of the Tentena area consists of about 35,000 local residents in addition to about 28,000 refugees from other areas in Central Sulawesi that have come under attack by the Laskar Jihad forces. Tentena is a landlocked area cut off by the Laskar Jihad from access to the coast and major transportation routes. It has besen rumored that the Laskar Jihad are threatening the entire Poso region with a "Bloody Christmas." The government authorities in Palu had given orders for all the rifles of the Tentena police to be returned to the National Police headquarters in order to "prevent further escalation in the already tense conflict." At present there are only 35 policemen with three rifles who are providing security for the 63,000 Christians living in the Poso region. There was no indication that the government has been willing to provide additional military security to safeguard the Christian communities. The police have yet to receive promised shipments of trucks and communication equipment. We learned from Major Batara that there were only four radios for the entire police force. There had been 14 radios until higher officials in Palu ordered them taken away.
The ICC team visited the Crisis Center in Tentena, meeting with Yan Patris Binela, head of the division for Law and Advocacy, and Noldy Tacoh, General Secretary. We were told that on November 12 a large contingent of Jihad warriors attempted to cross the river in Central Sulawesi to capture several small villages, but were prevented from doing so by the villagers who had made a coordinated effort to stop the Jihad from advancing.
The Crisis Center reported that there is a growing concern for the rise in health related problems due to the ever increasing number of refugees entering Tentena. Malnutrition, tuberculosis, uncontrolled hypertension resulting in numerous strokes, thyroid goiters, and other health concerns were evident. There were insufficient medicines and a lack of affordable medical care for the refugees. There had also been several victims suffering from wounds that were the result of the Jihad attacks. The ICC team visited one man in the hospital who had a serious infection in his leg due to shrapnel wounds he had suffered as result of gunfire from a Jihad attack on a bus that he was riding on. The surgeon had recommended that the leg be amputated. In another instance of growing health concerns, the doctor on the ICC team treated one 7-month-old infant who was severely malnourished because the infant had been fed only sugar water.
In addition, the Crisis Center reported that there are many medical needs that go unreported because detainees as well as the refugees are not able pay for medical care that is often needed. About 8,000 refugees have been added in the past three to four months to the number of refugees already in Tentena. During our visit with the Crisis Center, the ICC team also met with Eci Rantelangi who testified of her encounter on a bus on which she was a passenger on February 6th, 2001. A bomb was left under the seat next to her which exploded, wounding her in her leg and foot. One passenger was killed and another wounded.
FURTHER ACTS OF INJUSTICE & BEATINGS
During the months of June through August 2000, 159 Christians were arrested from the area of Tentena for alleged charges of being "provocateurs" in the conflict. According to an interview with police authorities in Tentena, the accused had done nothing more than attempt to defend their villages when they came under attack by the Jihad warriors. It was reported that 40 Christians still remain in jail while no Muslims have been arrested in connection with the attacks. Furthermore, we were told by the police authorities that some of the 159 Christians released had suffered from beatings during their time of detainment. One detainee died 2 days after being released in Poso. ICC was given a copy of the letter of his release from detention. The victim was identified as Gamaludin Tinjoli, 36 years of age. Mr. Tinjoli was hospitalized after being released from jail for appendicitis. The surgeon, Dr. Ketut, discovered during surgery that Mr. Tinjoli had suffered from numerous internal injuries due to severe beatings.
It was learned that the Christian defendants are unable to obtain adequate legal representation and security when appearing in court because they don't have the necessary funds. According to police and community leaders that the ICC team met, when both a Christian and a Muslim are charged with the same crime in connection with the conflict, and they appear before the same judge, the sentence typically handed down against the Christian is three years imprisonment while the Muslim will receive only seven months. Moreover, it was reported that the Muslim would be caught with live bullets in his possession while the Christian had nothing more than a machete. Christians are often arrested for merely having in their possession a machete, which is a common tool for a Christian farmer.
In recent attacks against the Christian villages of Peleru on October 30 and Malitu on November 16, no arrests of Muslim attackers have been made. In the village of Beta Lemba, three Muslims were arrested because a BRIMOB policeman had been killed during an attack against the Christians. Otherwise, no Muslim has been charged for any attack against Christians. The only arrests reported of Muslims since the conflict began in Central Sulawesi in December 1998 have been for charges of theft unrelated to the conflict and never for having participated in the attacks against Christian villages.
Following the second round of attacks by Jihad terrorists during the time period beginning April 13, 2000, a total of 40 Christian men, some as young as 16, were accused of capturing, torturing and slicing with a knife a Muslim youth. However, later the Muslim youth, whose name is Dedi, testified that he had lied in order to cover up the fact that he had injured himself while being drunk. He had likely been told to blame the Christians in order detract attention from his bad behavior. To date, none of the 40 have been released from prison in Poso and none of the Muslim perpetrators of the attacks that left 7 dead, 50 wounded, and 800 homes destroyed have ever been arrested. As for the Christians arrested, one was sentenced to three years in prison for possessing bullets and a second was sentenced to ten years for alleged kidnapping.
The first wave of attacks in Central Sulawesi began on December 26, 1998, the second began on April 13, 2000, and the third wave began at the end of June 2000. After the third wave of attacks against the Christians, the government arrested three Christian leaders who turned themselves in to the authorities after a warrant had been issued for their arrests for their involvement in the conflict between the Muslims and Christians. In reality, the three Christian leaders had only been involved in defending the villages from the attacking Jihad forces. In order to clear their names they turned themselves in, only to find that they would not receive justice in the Muslim court in Poso. They were sentenced to be executed. Again, no Muslim participating in the attacks was ever apprehended. The ICC team met with a fourth man, a general with the "Christian Militia" who is wanted by the authorities for his defensive role in the Jihad attacks against the Christians. The fact is, the Christian community has had to come to grips with the reality that they will have to defend themselves if their government is unwilling to do so.
ICC obtained a letter written by Major Batara giving instructions to a junior officer regarding six foreigners had been involved in an attack in early November on the Christian village of Pendolo. Two of the foreigners were from Afghanistan and four from Pakistan. Major Batara, with Pendolo being under his jurisdiction, had received orders from Palu to release the foreigners without interrogating them, therefore making it impossible to determine the intent and involvement of the foreigners about the attacks against Pendolo and elsewhere. The foreigners returned to Palu and it is not known where they went after that but are believed to still be in the Poso area. The police in Tentena reported that they believe that a number of foreigners are in Poso and are involved in training the Jihad. The following is the text from a copy of the letter that we obtained and was written by the Chief of Police in the Pamona District Sector C and sent to his subordinate in Pendolo, which confirms this concern:
With respect to: Sector Chief of Police in the North Pamona Sector From: Commander of Sector C Pamona
Please report to the Police Resort that the Afghanis and the Pakistanis who are in Pendolo are now only 4 (four) people because 2 (two) have returned to Makassar. The rest of them according to their plans are to depart before the commencement of the month of fasting. Furthermore, one of them will marry one of the residents from Lombok who are in the Lombok Transmigration area.
For your information. Pendolo, 31 October 2001 Commander of Sector C Pamona Signed Victor D. Batara Kompol No. 60100875
ICC learned that on November 6, 2001 two retired military officers, both Christians, disappeared during a trip to Poso. They were last seen by a bus driver who dropped them off at a regularly scheduled stop at a military compound in Kawua, near Poso. The names of the two men are Masri Senu (58) and S. Tuwung Kuya (58).
REFUGEES SUFFER IN MIDST OF TURMOIL
We met with a number of the Christians who are now living in crowded refugee camps. To the north of Tentena, in the village of Pandiri, we visited Christian refugees from the village of Malitu, which was raided by Muslim terrorists belonging to the organization Laskar Jihad on October 30, 2001. Malitu was home to 193 families, with a total population of 828. We were told that 150 homes were looted and burned down by some 400-500 Jihad warriors and the Christians were forced to flee into the jungles. The Christian refugees, now with no way to support themselves, had previously been employed as farmers, teachers and professionals. The sudden attack on their villages has been a great hardship for these people. Now homeless, many of the Christian refugees don't even have a blanket or mat on which to sleep. ICC made arrangements for the immediate delivery of blankets and mats.
The days following the attack on Malitu, the villages of Tomata, Pinedapa and Kasiguncu were attacked. Most of the homes were destroyed, as were the churches in those villages. Seven Christians were reportedly killed and many were injured. On November 10 the village of Pantongolemba was also attacked with 68 homes destroyed.
Sadly, the probability that these Christians would ever be returning to their villages seemed very unlikely - and the probability of them being attacked again is high. Nevertheless, if the refugees are not provided with land and basic housing, the social and physical condition of these people will only continue to deteriorate.
As an example of how prolonged life in refugee camps is getting worse, we visited one refugee camp in Manado, in northern Sulawesi, where people are having to live in over-crowded conditions, with sewer tanks overflowing and the limited water supply polluted. A team from a church in Alaska was in Manado at the time of our visit and were involved in a much needed well-drilling project, and much more needs to be done.
One refugee we met with in Tentena, Dolfi Monding, had been forced to flee his home, village, and profession as a teacher. He said, "Life as a refugee has not been easy. We bath in the muddy river, which is also our only source of drinking water. We have received some help from aid agencies that have provided food, but that aid is intermittent and now even fewer people are willing to come into this area due to the conflict." The current needs of the refugees, to name only a few, include light agricultural equipment, medicines, bedding, and blankets.
In our visit to Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, our ICC team learned about the secret location of what we were told is a warehouse belonging to a front organization of the Laskar Jihad, KOMPAC (Commission of Youth Against Violence) where they are manufacturing weapons for Jihad terrorists. It was too risky to attempt going inside the warehouse, but we did snap a picture of the outside. KOMPAC is also said to have been responsible for placing bombs in churches in Jakarta. We were told by a reliable source that another manufacturing plant exists in Makassar.
Our team met with a pastor and his wife who informed us of yet another planned and tragic incident. On the night of November 15, 2001, at 10 p.m., Jihad terrorists attacked the village of Patangolemba. Pastor Theopilus Kuhambo and his wife Sumiati Tomanga described the attack on their village. "The guards of our village were conducting their routine check of the village parameter when they noticed a band of heavily-armed men dressed in black moving toward our village. The guards gave the predetermined alarm, striking metal rods on the metal power poles. Fortunately, the people of the village heard the alarm, giving us all time to gather together at the church. With our four children, ages 7, 9, 11 and 15, we gathered with many of the people from our village in our church. The Jihad entered the village in a wedge formation, with bearded men in the center carrying bombs, cans of gasoline, and torches. The Jihad who marched in file along the outer edges were carrying automatic weapons. The guards estimated that there were about 300 Jihad terrorists, but there were likely more who couldn't be seen because they were in the shadows. As the Jihad advanced they looted the homes, a church, and several businesses. Afterward they set all the buildings ablaze. In our town is an army post. There were a total of nine soldiers at the post and two of them fled into the jungles. The remaining soldiers fired their weapons into the air, but they did nothing more to stop the Jihad. Nevertheless, once the Jihad reached the army post they stopped their advance. Prior to that, the soldiers came and advised us to leave the church, telling us that they could not protect us. They led us to a ditch filled with water and told us to hide there. We remained in the water for nearly five hours and it rained part of that time. Finally we were able to venture out of the ditch once the Jihad left the area. Our church and home, along with a few other homes, were located on the opposite side of the army post. Therefore, at least for now, our church and home were spared. But we expect the Jihad will return to finish the job, as they have done in other villages. We can not return to live in our village - never again. At dawn, none of us dared to return to examine the destruction, for the Jihad were still on the bridge that leads into the village and were setting it on fire. It was about 7:00 in the morning when the Jihad left and when we were able to return to our village to inspect the damage. We found everything in ruin. A total of 250 homes and one church were destroyed. Only the 30 homes and two churches that were on the other side of the military post escaped destruction, but the Jihad will likely return to finish their work of destruction. Knowing that we could not safely remain in the village, we fled to the Napu Valley, while some of the other residents fled to the village of Soninanu. The number of people living in Pantangolemba was over 1,500. Many homes had four and even five families living in them, for Christians from other villages that had previously been attacked had fled to Pantangolemba. There is no place safe for us to live." After hearing their heart-wrenching story, and looking into their eyes filled with tears, we could feel their pain and loss.
Just before departing Tentena, we were told by a reliable source in the area that at least 1,000 Jihad warriors were being dispatched to a Muslim controlled town just south of Tentena in preparation for what has been rumored the Laskar Jihad are preparing: "Bloody Christmas." Meanwhile, the government of Indonesia has refused to send the necessary military forces to the Poso region to repel the well-armed Jihad terrorist. Why does the government refuse to take action? One high ranking official, who asked not to be named, told the ICC team: "There is money being made by those in the military and in government and the trail leads all the way to the top in Jakarta." Our source also told us that high-level police officials are skimming money off of the already meager food subsidies for the policemen and their families. "As much as one third of what is supposed to be paid to policemen for food is being withheld," our source said. This same source told us, "I am certain that we have a strong enough military and police force to eradicate these terrorists, if only our present government in Jakarta had the will to do so." The U.S. needs to give Indonesia's President Megawati a reason to have the "will" to stop terrorism in her own back yard!
AN APPEAL FOR HELP
During the course of our visit to Poso, we assessed the needs and listened to the concerns of the leaders of the community. We promised the community leaders that we would:
- Provide a number of walkie-talkies to improve communication from village to village
- Continue to provide food and medical supplies as well as looking for avenues to obtain urgently needed medical equipment for the hospital and the medical clinic. We asked Dr. Ketut and Dr. Mangiri to submit a proposal containing the most urgently needed supplies and equipment.
- Investigate assistance for advocacy problems. We asked the Legal Department of the Tentena Crisis Center to submit a proposal for us to consider.
- Assist in finding a solution to the acute shortages of educational personnel, facilities, books and clothing to make sure that the next generation, the hope of the future, is not neglected. We asked them to make a proposal of the most urgently needed articles.
- Mobilize the world-wide Body of Christ to pray for them and to stand with them and that we would not abandon them in this time of crisis
- Contact as many authorities as is possible to try and prevent this slaughter of innocents from continuing and to pursue all avenues to bring peace to the region
- Build more shelters for the refugees in "safe" areas.
- To help develop strategies and raise funds for effective evacuations from villages under attack to prevent the chaos that has occurred in the villages that already have been attacked.
- To continue efforts to support initiatives for reconciliation and restoring peace and human rights to this region.
Moreover, we asked, "What can America do to help?" The answer was clearly presented by one Indonesian Christian leader who said: "Pressure our government to eradicate once and for all the Laskar Jihad disciples of bin Laden. If we Christians don't receive help soon, there is going to be a holocaust in Indonesia."
In addition, the following primary points of concerns were raised by Christian leaders of the Poso district:
- The community for the past three years has sacrificed generously to help support the refugees, but the long term nature of the conflict has drained their resources and now their communities and families are beginning to suffer at intolerable levels. They need help just to be able to survive. We found evidence of this in the refugee camps we visited. Many of the refugees are thin and malnourished, and young children in particular are suffering. Many adults as well are suffering due to malnourishment and diseases like TB and malaria, which are on the increase. There are also insufficient medical personnel, medicines and equipment to be able to adequately service the needs of the people.
- The Christians long for peace, security, and stability and appealed to us for international intervention, as it appears that the Indonesian government, military and police have no interest in protecting the Christians against a planned massacre and mass forced Islamization program by the Laskar Jihad of the 63,000 people currently trapped in the District of Poso. This was evidenced in Pantangolemba where several of the military ran away and hid during the attack on the village. Further evidence is the weapons, ammunition, and bomb factories in Palu and Makassar run by the Laskar Jihad, which despite numerous reports and requests, have been left undisturbed by the authorities.
- The Christians are concerned by the presence of Afghanis and Pakistanis in Pandajaya, near Pendolo, who are training the local Jihad forces in the manufacture of weapons and bombs. Since their arrival there has been a marked increase in the number of bombing attacks from that village against nearby Christian villages.
- With 30 villages and 4000 homes destroyed by the Laskar Jihad in the last 3 months, the Christians are questioning if the Government of Indonesia is really serious about protecting the rights of all citizens, and they further suspect that some senior government officials, such as the Governor, the Mayor of Poso, and some senior police and military personnel are actually sponsoring the Laskar Jihad for political and religious reasons as well as using and extending the conflict for personal financial gain. (e.g. Drawing funds to put x numbers of people in the field but actually only putting 50% of x in the field. The balance goes into their pockets. Similar things happen with overseas aid as well as in other areas.)
- The Christians fear that the intentions of the Laskar Jihad, who have imposed an embargo on fuel supplies and threatened them with a "Bloody Christmas," are actually controlling the government and the military as evidenced by the removal of military guards from Christian villages and the removal of weapons from the police in Tentena, who now only have 3 rifles for the 35 member BRIMOB police force.
- The community leaders in Tentena believe that the recently "opened" route to Makassar from Tentena via Pendolo has deliberately been "made safe" and opened by the jihad warriors for two reasons. Firstly, to try and reduce the numbers of people in Tentena to make their attack and destruction of the city easier by intimidating the population and creating sufficient fear that many will leave. Secondly, to create a false sense of security that there is a route of escape while at the same time using the "open road" as a transportation route to bring in more jihad warriors from the south to prepare for "Bloody Christmas".
- The community leaders reported that many Muslims, especially those who have lived in the area for many years, are angry at the Laskar Jihad and just want them to go away and to give the local people the opportunity to live in peace. They said it is only the relatively newcomers to the area, and especially people in high places, along with the Laskar Jihad, who are manipulating the situation for political, religious, and financial reasons, and that there can be no peace unless either the Laskar Jihad are withdrawn or the Christians are massacred.
PARTING WITH HEAVY HEARTS
At the airport, just before departing from Palu, several senior police officers were there to escort a "passenger" on to the plane. The same passenger was met by several police officers in Makassar when we arrived. These senior officers mentioned that they had information that there were more than 1000 additional Jihad warriors from Aceh (northern part of Sumatra) who were on their way to Tentena. The Jihad forces would travel the southern route up from Makassar to Pendolo to strengthen the Jihad forces as they prepare for what is being called a "Bloody Christmas" in Tentena. We were able to board our plane and depart in safety, but our hearts cried out for our dear brothers and sisters trapped in the District of Poso. Most have no alternative other than to stay and wait to be slaughtered. Many are simple peasants, farmers, fishermen, and villagers. They are defenseless, weaponless, and confused. They know nothing of all the political, religious, or financial manipulations going on, and there is nothing that they can do to stop this massacre from taking place. Their only hope is that God will intervene. Meanwhile, we Christians must do all we can to help. We can pray, but we can also provide needed aid and serve as their voice. We must speak out on their behalf so and that appropriate action would be taken by America and her allies in the "War On Terrorism." What is happening to the Christians is nothing less that cold-hearted, calculated acts of terrorism.
The Jihad forces, including numbers of foreigners from outside Indonesia, are well armed with AK-47's and often outnumber the military forces and local police who seek to defend the vulnerable Christian villages. Meanwhile the main road between Poso and Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, has effectively been cut off for travel for Christians and now villages are becoming increasingly isolated from the outside world. The Christian community is in desperate need of outside intervention and humanitarian assistance; otherwise they could face extermination.
As this report went to press, on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 Jihad terrorists invaded once again. This time, the village of Betalemba in the Poso Pesisir area became the target. According to our source, the invasion started at 9:00 A.M. and the attackers came from the neighboring village of Tabalu. By 3:00 P.M. most of the homes and buildings in Betalemba had been burned down by the Jihad. The police officers of the villages of Betalemba, Patiwunga, Tabalu and Tangkura were told to abandon their posts (and thus abandoning the civilians), allowing the Jihad terrorists to launch an attack against these villages as well. At least four people have been killed. Most of the Christians from these villages are fleeing to Tentena. This provides further evidence that indeed the Jihad are moving ahead with their plans for a "Bloody Christmas."
Photos are made available to qualified agencies.
For further information on the Campaign of Terrorism in Indonesia, contact ICC at the following address or by phoning (301) 989-1708 or by e-mail at [email protected].
International Christians Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Washington, DC 20006-1846
Terrorists Kill 15 Christians During Sunday Service In Pakistan
(Lahore, Pakistan - October 28, 2001) Bearded terrorists on motorcycles attacked St. Dominic Church, killing at least 15 worshipers and a police officer in the town of Bahawalpur, 225 miles south of Lahore. The attack occurred Sunday morning as an estimated 60 Christians had just begun their worship service.
Boy Pleads for Help for Father Detained in Saudi Arabia
Four More Arrested: Total of 14 Detained for Practicing Their Faith
The Government of Saudi Arabia is continuing their sweep of Christians by raiding the private homes, confiscating personal articles, and imprisoning men for undetermined reasons. International Christian Concern, the Washington DC based human rights organization, was notified by the United Churches of Saudi Arabia (UCOSA) that four more men have been taken - two of which reside with their families in Jeddah.