Eyewitness Report of Atrocities
in Ambon
Thousands Fleeing to Mountains
for Safety
The following is a report of a visit to the Ambon war zone from a 
Senior Pastor of a Christian Church in Indonesia whose name has 
been withheld for security reasons.

I have recently returned from a visit to the island of Ambon. What 
I witnessed is almost indescribable. I arrived at the airport but 
could not go via the road to the city of Ambon. Certain areas are 
controlled by Muslims and we were told that the Muslims stop all 
vehicles, check ID cards and shoot the Christians on sight. Instead 
I took a speedboat to the other side of the bay where the city of 
Ambon is located.

The city of Ambon is divided into two areas controlled by 
Christians and Muslims. There is no communication between the 
two areas with the exception of police and the military. The 
Muslims control the area of the harbour and the Christian the 
airport and part of the city. Army units guard the boundary areas 
between the Muslim and Christian areas. Hundreds of churches 
and thousands of houses of Christians have been burned by the 
Muslims, usually assisted by Muslim soldiers of the armed forces. 
I read many reports of attacks on Christian villages and I am 
mentioning some reports in this account.

We visited one village called Hative Kecil and saw a Protestant 
and a Pentecostal Church burned down, together with all the 
houses of the Christians in the village. The Pastor reported that the 
attack came after a Muslim mob had stoned the village for the 
previous hour. Then 5 military personnel posted in the village 
came down the street firing into the air. They paved the way for 
the Muslim mobs to loot and burn down the houses of the 

The people told me that the Immanuel church was being guarded 
by 26 Christians. When the soldiers got to the church they went 
into the church continuing to shoot. They killed 24 of the men and 
dragged their bodies outside the church where they were burnt. 
The soldiers belonged to the elite strategic reserve command and 
also some members of the paramilitary mobile police. The victims 
ranged in ages from 18 to 35. The pastor said that by the time they 
returned to the scene 21 of the bodies were beyond recognition so 
they were buried in a mass grave.

This is but one account of many villages burnt, Christians killed, 
bodies cut open, people beheaded by masses of Muslim mobs 
shouting, "God is great!" I have dozens of reports of atrocities 
committed by Muslims assisted by members of the Indonesian 
Armed Forces.

We visited two wards and several rooms of the local hospital and 
met with about 50 men who were wounded during the rioting in 
the city of Ambon. All the others in the hospital have the same 
story and told me how they were shot by soldiers of the TNI 
(Indonesian Army).

I then visited the village of Waiheru, on the island of Ambon 
consisted of 65% Muslims and 35% Christians. They had been 
living harmoniously together for many years. Their village covers 
and area of about 3 square kilometres.

Recently a Muslim mob assisted by armed forces members 
attacked the village and burned down approximately 400 houses of 
the Christians. The Protestant and Roman Catholic churches were 
saved from destruction because both churches were guarded by 7 
Christian soldiers of the same army units.

I witnessed the burning of the village of Ahuru, a Roman Catholic 
village in the city of Ambon. The strategy of the Muslims (assisted 
by Indonesian soldiers) is to scare away the Christians from the 
villages with several hours of shooting at the houses and at the 
people. The Christians flee the area. Then the Muslims move in, 
loot the homes of the Christians and set fire to their houses. I took 
a series of pictures of the houses being burned one after the other.

No one comes and helps these Christians. I saw the body of 
another man who was shot and killed by one bullet while trying to 
save people from their burning houses. He leaves behind his wife 
and 7 children.

I saw 3 trucks roll by full of Army troops but it made no 
difference. The houses kept being burned. After the village is 
burned down, the military come and guard the burned out village 
so that the people don't return. Village after village is being burned 
down and little by little the Muslims are driving out the Christians 
and occupy their areas. The Christians are trying to defend their 
property, their land, houses and their families. They have 
fabricated homemade handguns and pistols but they are no match 
for the Indonesian soldiers with modern weapons, grenades, 
teargas and even armed vehicles. I saw some dozens of young men 
walking in a long line toward the battlefield holding their primitive 
weapons. They cried out to me. We have no one to help us! The 
world is paying no attention to us as we are loosing our homes, 
land, churches and family members.

Soldiers entered the village of Mardika shooting and using tear gas 
to drive out the Christians. Seventeen people died that day. After 
the Christians fled their village the Muslims came in, looted all the 
houses and burned down over 100 houses. They write degrading 
words about the Lord Jesus Christ on the walls of the burned out 
houses. They come prepared with cans of gasoline to do their evil 
work. We witnessed 2 burned bodies lying in he doorway of their 

Today 27 December 1999 I received information direct from 
Ambon that yesterday 1,000 Christians fled to Ambon city from 
the island of Buru. On Buru 89 people were killed in violence in 
last few days.

Last night in Ambon around midnight, the main Protestant Church 
(Silo Church) was destroyed by fire. The church came under attack 
around 7pm while a worship service was taking place. A further 
attack took place around 11pm. In the violence that followed, 39 
Christians were shot. The Church which lies about 100 metres 
away from the Al-Fatah Mosque, was carried out in cooperation 
with army units using armoured vehicles. Christians defending 
their church were rendered powerless because the army units kept 
shooting at them. The fire engine which tried to put out the fires 
was also attacked by armed soldiers.

Reports indicate that those responsible are Muslim groups with the 
assistance of sections of the military. Bethlehem Church, a 
predominantly Chinese Christian congregation, is now under 
immediate threat. Thousands of people are fleeing to the 
mountains for protection while military-backed gangs burn the 
city. No-one feels safe. The military are shooting people in the 
streets as Ambon city is now a war zone.

It's a clash between Christians and Muslims but the issues are far 
more complex. The Indonesian military is actively backing Muslim 
newcomers as local people, who are predominantly Christian, are 
being forced to get out or be killed.

Church leaders are pleading for the international community to put 
pressure on Indonesia to stop the violence in Ambon. Meanwhile, 
shooting continues in the streets while many homes are being 
destroyed. Those killed include women and children.

Fears of a bloody Christmas in Ambon have been realised. People 
have grave fears about the future. In words that echoed similar 
pleas from Dili last September, the people cry "we need help!" 
"When will the world intervene to stop the violence and death in 
Ambon! Can Australia help? It's our only hope. There is nothing 
we can do for tonight Ambon is dying".

Please pray for the people of Ambon and especially remember 
those Christians who are being terrorised through a campaign of 
violence and intimidation.

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