|Riots in Indonesia:
E-mail messages from residents
|Suggestions for helping Indonesian Christians|
Subject: Re: +CAHT-L+ INE / Riots in Indonesia (Four E-mail messages from residents) >See Singapore's Straits Times today, for a report by their >Indonesia Correspondent. Is Indonesia slowly descending >into mob rule? What can churches outside Indonesia >do besides praying? Welcome your assessment. It is noteworthy that this story was also picked up by the BBC almost immediately, although without some of the details in the accounts of eyewitnesses, and with the more international angle of Suharto's urging religious groups to respect one another. This kind of international attention is all to the good at the moment. Let me suggest four concrete steps in addition to prayer. 1. Let Indonesian Christians know that we are behind them, and offer the support which they feel is appropriate. 2. Let our respective governments know that this is a matter for which we have a concern, and that we would appreciate that concern being reflected in both public and private foreign policy decisions. I don't mean that big western states should interfer with Indonesia's internal affairs. However, in so far as many nations in the West and Asia have substantial investments in Indonesia, and large numbers of their citizens residing in Indonesia, they do have a stake in the internal stablility of Indonesian society. In particular it needs to be stressed that it is both in Indonesia's interests, and that of their economic partners, that the country not become isolated or limited to Islamic countries as sources of foreign investment. And continued mob rule by overtly Islamic groups will certainly both deter positive investment and encourage investment from the wrong sources. 3. Tell those we know in the business community of the true scope of these events and our concerns for them. International business isn't without a conscience, but it does need some pricking once and awhile. Again I think encouraging businesses to stick with Indonesia, rather than leaving it isolated, is important. Its also important to point out that it is increasingly in their own interests to use their political connections to point out the dangerous directions these riots are carrying the country. A positive side of business is that it can be a conservative force in politics, less willing than politicians to gamble on risky stratagies to stay in power. (Put in other words, business is less committed than politicians to any particular political personality, and is therefore less willing to risk social stability to keep such persons in power.) At least one possibility in these riots is that they represent political stratagies of a very dangerous type. Businessmen can help politicians see more clearly that those who "sow the wind", risk "reaping a whirlwind" which they cannot control. 4. We need to communicate to Muslim leaders in the Nadatul Ulama and Muhammadiya (who have condemned the violence) our concerns, as well as our appreciation for the efforts they have made to contain the situation. This needs to be done as people with a common concern for peace. Ultimately Indonesia will be controlled by the mob if the only means of expressing discontent and manifesting political power is by bringing people onto the streets. As long as the political system is closed and there are large numbers of people living in poverty there will be an escalation of violence. Christians will continue to be targets because by religion, and often ethnicity, they are seen as aliens. In the end we must pray for democracy in Indonesia.
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