WASHINGTON (BP)–Three Catholic men in Indonesia are scheduled to be executed Thursday, according to report by International Christian Concern Sept. 19.
The men were accused of inciting violence between Muslims and Christians in 2000 that led to the deaths of some 1,000 people in the Poso port region of Sulawesi island.
According to an earlier news release from ICC, Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva admitted their role in the violence, but were the only three persons charged in a five-year-long conflict between Muslims and Christians on the island nation.
All three were convicted and sentenced to die Aug. 12 by firing squad, but the Vatican, ICC and other human rights organizations and the European Union protested the convictions. ICC, for example, targeted inequities in the Indonesian justice system between Muslims and Christians.
Attorney General Mohammad Yahya Sibe stayed the executions in August because of the international pressure, but he and the area police chief both were relieved of their duties after the decision. Tibo, Riwu and da Silva recently appealed their conviction and sentencing once more, but that appeal, which should have taken months to process, has fallen on deaf ears.
ICC spokesman Jeremy Sewell said the three Catholics are being sent to their deaths to placate radical Muslims in Indonesia who are upset over the conviction and scheduled execution of three Islamic militants in connection with the Bali bombings in October 2002. In all, the bombing claimed 202 lives and injured another 209 people from 22 different countries. Jemaah Islamiyah, a radical group with ties to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack that killed seven Americans.
“The Indonesian government is sacrificing true justice to provide ‘balance’ by executing these three Christians,” Sewell, an ICC policy analyst, said. “This is not justice. This is deception, cover-up and appeasement.”
Thousands of Muslims have been involved in attacks on Christian churches and individual believers since tensions heightened between the groups in 1998, according to ICC. The bloody conflict lasted through 2003, with more than 10,000 Christians killed throughout the nation, and sporadic instances of violence directed towards Christians still occur.
In October 2005, for example, the bodies of three Indonesian Christian schoolgirls were found near a cocoa plantation that borders a Muslim area. Each had been beheaded by Islamic militants. The heads were placed on the front steps of a nearby Christian church, indicating that the violence was religiously motivated.
ICC investigated the Poso conflict and found that whole Christian villages were shelled with government munitions and burned down with fuel trucks provided by the Indonesian government. According to the Christian human rights group, there is “every indication that local Muslim government leaders were involved.”
Despite attacks directed at Christians, no Muslim has ever been tried and convicted of inciting violence, according to ICC reports. Since conflict began between the two groups, more than 1,000 Christian churches and 80,000 Christian homes have been burned, often with the congregants and owners inside.
“There are so many Muslims in the Poso area with blood on their hands that the governor of Central Sulawesi, where Poso is located, recently conveyed to the community that in order to attain peace it was necessary to implement a ‘general amnesty’ for those implicated in the Poso case,” ICC President Jeff King said in a news release. “Religious and cultural leaders in the Poso community have also repeatedly held meetings in order to achieve a ‘general amnesty.’ Strangely, the need for amnesty is only for those who have not yet been charged.”
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, with Muslims in control of government and military entities.
ICC requests that all concerned individuals contact the Indonesian embassy to urge the Indonesia government to intervene in the case:
Indonesian Embassy (United States)
2020 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone – (202) 775-5200
Fax – (202) 775-5365
Indonesian Embassy (United Kingdom)
38 Grosvenor Square
London W1K 2HW
Phone – (020) 7499 7661
Fax. – (020) 7491 4993
Indonesian Embassy (Canada)
Post Mail: 55 Parkdale Ave.,
Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 1E5
Phone – (613) 724-1100
Fax – (613) 724-1105
International Christian Concern, based in Washington, D.C., works to protect Christians worldwide and raise awareness of persecution on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. State Department.