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Sporadic violence in Indonesia - obstacles on the way to becoming a stable country

Updated On: Oct 03, 2006

The execution of three Christians convicted of involvement in the four years of sectarian fighting in Poso has sparked communal tensions.

The trio, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marianus Riwu, were shot dead for inciting violence against Muslims in religiously-divided Central Sulawesi in 2000.  Indonesia is the world's most-populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians.

Christians angered by the executions first set fire to three cars and a police station and hurled stones at a helicopter carrying a police chief.  This was followed by a string of four bomb blasts over the weekend, one of which was a home-made bomb thrown at a police target.  Shortly after the bombs went off, a Muslim mob set fire to a partially constructed church Sunday (1 October) in apparent retaliation for the detonation of two small bombs, as religious tension in Central Sulawesiprovince continued to escalate, police said.  That same day, Muslims dragged a Christian man from a bus and then stabbed him. Security has since been tightened to include the deployment of hundreds of Indonesian paramilitary police to the town of Poso

Elsewhere in Indonesia, survivors and relatives of the victims of the 2005 Bali bombings on Sunday (1 October) marked the first anniversary of the attacks in a low-key ceremony amid heightened security. 

Earlier on Friday (29 September), dozens of university students marched through the streets of Denpasar, demanding that Amrozi, Imam Samudra and other bombers be executed. The death sentences of the Bali bombers has been delayed sparking allegation of religious discrimination. "The government is just trying to buy time," a student shouted.  While long stays on death row are common in Indonesia, the rejection of the final appeal and swift execution of the Poso 3 have led to widespread protest of the religious discrimination allegedly influencing the execution orders.

Meanwhile over in Aceh, analysts predict that the upcoming local elections in December will not threaten the peace in once-restive Aceh.  All eyes will be on the elections as this represents one of the success case of conflict resolution that would give peace and stability of Indonesia a big boost. 

Sidney Jones, Southeast Asia director for the International Crisis Group, said GAM was not focusing on the December polls because it had set its sights on parliamentary elections in 2009 which it would contest as a political party.  GAM seeks to win control of the provincial parliament in 2009 and use that power as a vehicle to push a political agenda, she said.  While the military may try to prevent GAM candidates from winning by throwing its support to other candidates, it is unlikely to resort to intimidation or violence, Jones said. 

Sources:

Indonesia deploys more police to Central Sulawesi after blasts (ANTARA, 1 October 2006)

Another blast hits restive Central Sulawesi town of Poso (ANTARA, 1 October 2006)

Muslim mob stabs Christian in Poso as tensions rise (Jakarta Post, 1 October 2006)

Mob burns church as tensions rise in Poso (Jakarta Post, 1 October 2006)

Indonesia rushes troops following blasts in Poso  (Today/AFP, 2 October 2006)

Memorial marks 2005 Bali bombings (The Straits Times/AFP, 2 October 2006)

Families, friends remember Bali bombing victims (The Jakarta Post, 2 October 2006)

Elections won't threaten Aceh peace – analysts (Reuters, 30 September 2006)