Martial Law Could Force Christians to Flee Moluccas, Says Bishop

AMBON, Indonesia, MAY 8, 2002 ( Christians of the Moluccas archipelago might be obliged to flee en masse if martial law is imposed on the population, a bishop warns.

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Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Ambon said he fears there would be ethnic cleansing if martial law is «applied by an immoral, unjust and corrupt government, which puts its own ambitions above the common good,» according to the Misna missionary agency.

«In this case, we hope that large ships will be available in the Ambon bay to transport the population out of the Moluccas,» the bishop added.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz repeated that martial law will not be imposed in the archipelago, where fresh violence erupted in recent days. A peace pact had been signed two months ago between Christians and Muslims.

The vice president made the above statement during a meeting with 45 members of the Chamber of Representatives of the Moluccas. They arrived in Jakarta to discuss questions relating to the interreligious conflict, which started in January 1999.

The delegates stressed the need to create the promised independent investigation committee to examine the violence.

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