Massacre of Christians During Midnight Mass in Indonesia

Protestants and Catholics Subjected to Barrage of Forced Conversions

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

JAKARTA, Dec. 25, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- According to police sources, at least 14 people have been killed and another 47 wounded in a series of unprecedented attacks against Indonesian churches during Christmas Eve celebrations last night.

On top of that, security forces also deactivated another 15 devices containing between 6 and 9 pounds of explosives set to explode at 11:30 at night, local time. This would have made the Christmas Eve massacre that much more horrific.

The Molucas islands east of Indonesia have suffered the worst violence in recent days. Some 5000 Muslims and Christians have died in confrontations between the two communities caused by ethnic, social, and religious reasons.

Police have confirmed five onslaughts in Catholic and Protestant churches in Jarkarta, the capital.

Police Chief General Suroyo Bimantoro explained that a total of 18 bombs exploded in 8 cities in the country. The attacks were separated by only a few minutes, which leads security forces to think the terrorist plot was well orchestrated.

With 212 million inhabitants, of whom 44% follow Islam, Indonesia has the greatest number of Muslims in the world. Christians represent about 9% of the population (2/3 of these are Protestants).

Cardinal Julius Darmoatmodjo, archibishop of Jakarta, asked to the Catholic community to forgive and not to voice unfounded accusations. «Even if we know who is behind the bombings, I urge all Christians to forgive.»

The Cardinal also pointed out that many Muslims that were passing nearby the areas attacked are also among the victims.

This year Christmas coincides with the closing days of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer, which ends Tuesday night.

Indonesian President Abdurraman Wahid is of the opinion that the attacks were intended to weaken the Indonesian government and instill a climate of terror. Wahid is currently under strong pressure to control the decline of the political and economic situation of the country.

From the Vatican, Juan Paul II in his Christmas message specifically mentioned the suffering experienced at this time by «our brothers in the faith» in Indonesia, having changed his prepared text at the last moment to refer to these most recent violent attacks.

The Vatican Fides agency reports of stepped up attempts to convert Christians in Indonesia to Islam. Christians are forced to undergo circumcision with razor blades, and some women made to marry Muslims. The Indonesian Bishops´ Conference estimates that some 6,000 Christians stranded in the Mollucas are threatened by violence.

The governor of Ambon, Saleh Latuconsina, stated that «it cannot be denied that in Keswui and Teor, forced Islamization is taking place.» He continued by promising his help in evacuating Christians and legal actions against those who carry out such violations of the fundamental right to freedom of religion.

According to the Amboina Crisis Center, which provides daily updates on the situation in the Mollucas, «There is only one way to save the Christians: Large scale deportation by neutral military forces.»
ZE00122502

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ZENIT Staff

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation