Panels Formed to Pursue Peace in Moluccas

LONDON, FEB. 4, 2004 ( Signs of hope are growing in the civil war-torn Molucca Islands of Indonesia.

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A meeting was held in London from Jan. 19-28 to encourage the region’s reconstruction and reconciliation process. The meeting was sponsored by the International Christian-Islamic Organization for Reconstruction and Reconciliation and the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the AsiaNews agency reported.

Participating in the talks were local government representatives, warring parties, religious leaders, citizens and directors of Christian and Muslim organizations from the Molucca seaport of Ambon.

The assembly established the Moluccas Committee, which will act as a consulting body and form a number of work groups. Law reform and educational programs are on the agenda.

The assembly also specified the duties of the Interreligious Committee, founded in 2003 and composed of six members — two Protestants, two Catholics and two Muslims. The committee has the responsibility of teaching values pertaining to each faith while promoting peaceful community living.

Ethnic-religious clashes in the Moluccas began in January 1999. Civil war between Muslims and Christians led to thousands of deaths and thousands of children being left orphaned. Outbursts of violence continue despite a peace treaty signing in February 2002.

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