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What's Really Happening In Indonesia?

Tuesday, August 14, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags:

August 14, 2001
By John Lindner
Special to ASSIST News Service
Suppose you open the morning paper and read something like this:

"A militant fundamentalist group from Idaho is spreading terror across the Midwest-and federal troops are siding with the attackers.

"The 'Army of Jehovah,' as they call themselves, is attacking town after town in the Ohio. The latest offensive on Wapakoneta, population 9000, located about 15 miles south of Lima, killed 23 residents and burned an entire section of town.

"Residents tried to fend off the assault, but their deer rifles and shotguns were no match for the AK-47s and grenade launchers of the invading militia. Even the police with their semi-automatic pistols and 9 mm submachine guns could not withstand the onslaught. The community was quickly overrun by the invaders.

"'We are killing the infidels,' the leader, Joshua Moses, said. 'Everybody must be baptized and become a worshiper of Jehovah.'"

Suppose the article goes on to say:

"The governor asked for the National Guard to be called in, but when they showed up, they joined the attackers in fighting the citizens and burning down their houses. Meanwhile, President George W. Bush, who was vacationing in the Bahamas, said not to worry, that the fracas was a small, local incident and would eventually burn itself out.

"Not likely," the article concludes, "since the attacks on towns in the Midwest started nearly a year ago and seem to be increasing in furor. Already, another fundamentalist militia has been seen crossing the Mississippi River, and no one seems to be stopping them!"

The above fictitious report, so bizarre it seems it could never happen in America, tragically typifies what actually is happening in the cluster of islands called the Moluccas, formerly Spice Islands, of Indonesia. Since April 2000 militant bands calling themselves the Laskar Jihad ("holy warriors") have been infiltrating the region in increasing numbers, attacking "Christian" villages in an attempt to force everyone to become a Muslim. Those who refuse or who are caught trying to flee are summarily slaughtered, and the U.S. media have hardly noticed.

Still, the attacks continue almost weekly.

July 1: The village of Maleu Lage is attacked; 160 houses are burned to the ground and 1,670 residents flee to the jungles.

July 14: Jihad terrorists burn 25 Christian homes in the village of Pandajaya. Three Christians are killed and nine wounded.

July 18: Muslim attackers destroy every home in the Christian village of Uelene.

"Since June the jihad attacks have increased in strength every day," says Steve Snyder of International Christian Concern in Washington, DC, an organization seeking to raise funds to rescue Christians trapped in villages controlled by the jihad movement. Snyder quotes an Indonesian policeman as saying that, on average, "ten Christians are killed every day."

The number of Christians fleeing the region has risen from 1,800 in early June to more than 6,000 as of July 18, with still more Christians hiding in the jungles and mountains.

Christians have valiantly defended their villages sometimes with home-made weapons and ordinary rifles but have been no match for the superior powered jihad militants armed with automatic rifles, machine guns and grenades. Sometimes in the past, the Indonesian army, purportedly sent to defend the people, actually has joined the attackers in killing and terrorizing the Christians and razing their houses.

When a middle-aged woman named Sutarsi saw the army siding with the attackers in June 2000, she cried out, "O God, help us."

"I'll show you how God helps you," a soldier said. He put his pistol in her mouth and pulled the trigger. Sutarsi fell to the ground with half her face blown away. The soldier left her for dead. Miraculously, she survived. She is now on the road to recovery, thanks to surgeries made possible with donations from abroad.

Those who escaped attacks on their villages tell how their attackers sometimes slashed open pregnant women and chopped their fetuses to pieces. Adel, in her 30s, tried to escape an attack on her village of Salube in July 2000. Accompanying her was her 8-year-old son Anto and her 10-year-old daughter Tien, along with her mother and mother-in-law. The old and the young could not flee fast enough and the Jihad attackers overtook them in the jungle. They slew her son, mother and mother-in-law before her eyes, and took her and her daughter hostage. Though she was in her menstrual period, they stripped her naked and paraded her before the jeering attackers and other captured villagers, cutting her body with machetes and prodding her in the groin with spears.

"We will roast you like dry, salted fish," they told her.

Only when a Muslim man stepped forward and said he would take her (never mind she was already married) did the harassment stop. Next she was forced to be circumcised and joined to this Muslim.

The good news is that a little over a year later, after giving birth to a son fathered by her Muslim "protector," she and her daughter were reunited with her true husband, Methu. This was due in part to a rescue party sent with funds provided by ICC and Christian Aid Mission of Charlottesville, Virginia, an organization that helps indigenous missions worldwide that has joined ICC in raising funds to rescue Christians held hostage by jihad militants.

What is so bizarre is that this Laskar Jihad has been continually attacking Christian villages, murdering Christians and burning down their houses, businesses and church buildings for well over a year now, and the Indonesian government has seemingly been unable or unwilling to stop them.

So far scores of villages have been captured by the militant Muslims, hundreds of Christians have been killed and thousands more held captive and forced to convert to Islam against their will. The conversion process involves forced circumcisions of both men and women - including the elderly and children-and often done crudely with a razor blade and no antiseptic or anesthetic. For females, this means cutting off the clitoris.

Moreover, while people were being beheaded or chopped to pieces, then President Abdurrachman Wahid was vacationing in the Middle East, claiming the unrest was localized. He was subsequently impeached in late July and replaced by former Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, eldest daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno.

Now come reports that the Laskar Jihad is amassing 3000 more of its "warriors" to attack relatively defenseless Christian villages in central Sulawesi Island.

"The jihad warriors are publicly soliciting recruits and finances to fight against the Christians," says Snyder. "The jihad has already dispatched 500 troops with another 2,500 on the way. A Pentecostal church was reported attacked, the pastor's wife shot, and 30 homes burned down."

Will the carnage ever stop? Already more lives have been lost in this inter-religious fray in Indonesia than in the entire Bosnian conflict, yet industrialized nations seem to carry on business as usual. Easily 8,000 people have been killed in the conflicts and upwards of 500,000 have been displaced from their homes. Some of these have found makeshift shelter in displaced person camps in Halmahera and Sulawesi Islands. Others are still hiding in the jungles.

This is an out-and-out religious war, and citizens worldwide who believe in rule by law should petition their governments to apply pressure to Indonesia to get its roving bands of militant Muslims under control, and re-establish rule of law and freedom of religion guaranteed by its constitution.

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