Source CRISIS CENTRE DIOCESE OF AMBOINA Date 2000-09-19
THE SITUATION IN AMBON / MOLUCCAS - Report no.55
Jalan Pattimura 32 - Ambon 97124 - Indonesia
Tel 0062 (0)911 342195
Fax 0062 (0)911 355337
Ambon, September 19, 2000
1. Every day the local newspapers report on quite a lot of corruption scandals, mainly concerning government funds. The situation in Ambon has been conducive lately, so that we did not issue any reports. However, the situation has been changing since yesterday, and we may be in for another round of violence, as can be read by the following events.
2. Local newspapers "Suara Maluku" and "Siwalima" report on (what is called) a "mysterious" shooting in the morning of September 18 at a slow motorboat on its route from the village of Sirisori Islam on the island of Saparua to Masohi (South Ceram), killing a Brimob policeman, named Baharuddin, and a civilian, Miss Takia Saimima, aged 41. Another Brimob policeman, Siagian, and a male civilian were wounded. Residents from Sirisori Islam - though still not knowing who was/were at the source of this shooting - reacted by launching an attack towards the nearby village of Ulath on Saparua, burning down a Brimob sentry post at the border between the two villages. Up to 5 p.m. the sound of bombing could be heard and several houses are reported to have been burned.
3. The shooting at the motorboat had its effect in Masohi, too. At about 11 a.m. three christians were assaulted resulting in their being seriously injured. In the afternoon the situation in Masohi was back to normal.
4. Late last night there was mutual burning of houses at the village of Halong Atas ("Upper Halong"). Up to this morning from afar one could still see smoke arising in that area..
5. Own sources report on the following happenings in Ambon town this morning. Sponsored by the governor in cooperation with several women's organisations - both muslim and christian - a "pasar murah" (cheap market) started this morning at the large open space in the middle of the town, which is reserved for various kinds of happenings, ceremonies etc. It was meant to go on during this whole week.
We were informed by customers that all of the kiosk holders were women. Those crowding the place were glad to meet - at last - old acquaintances from the other side, for muslims and christians intermingled spontaneously. However, the recent unrest in Ulath, Masohi and Halong may have spurred a group of muslims to put an end to this fraternizing. At about 11 a.m. they came to the market site unarmed, so the security forces may have thought that they came to do some shopping.
However they started to throw stones at the hundreds of people who were selling and buying, so panic ensued and people fled in all directions, most of them to the adjacent large government office building. Christian youngsters - having anticipated such thing to happen - were immediately on the spot, but could not prevent some of the kiosks being destoyed. Security forces started shooting in the air. People came panicking running along our compound. The police chief commander was seen on the spot immediately and also some panser vehicles came to aid.
The Pohon Pule bridge was instantaneously barricaded by the security forces (apparently to prevent christian warriors from Kudamati and Batugantung to come to the scene). After about an hour it was opened up again. Young christian boys are still patrolling around in these quarters now. There is now shooting going on in the bay by speedboats aimed at the christian quarters of Gudang Arang. Gudang Arang is essential for christians arriving by plane. For it is the landing site for the speedboats that carry those passengers from the airport (Laha) to the town of Ambon. At about 1.45 p.m. a slow motorboat with christian passengers on board, while passing by Jos Sudarso harbour, was attacked by two muslim speed boats, killing three passengers and wounding seven.
6. We add to this report - both straight and as attachment - a discourse by Rev. J. Mangkey msc, a Manadonese priest, presented at the Annual Conference of Kirche in Not / Church in Need in Königstein, Germany, on 19 September 2000. For any reaction to this discourse please connect firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRISIS CENTRE DIOCESE OF AMBOINA,
Msgr Jos Tethool MSC
Auxiliary Bishop of Amboina