in Maluku Province of Indonesia
|Attacks on Christian CongregationsHave Escalated in Past Two Weeks|
In a statement issued in Jakarta the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) has demanded that international peacekeepers be placed in riot-torn Maluku province if Indonesian security forces are unable to stop the violence. At this moment, indications are that an all-out attack is being planned to burn the nearby Maranatha Protestant church as well, lending truth to the much-rumoured plan of Muslims to take over Ambon before the upcoming Idulfitri (end of Muslim fasting month) holiday (Jan. 8). If Maranatha can be overpowered, the main opposition from Christians on the island will have been broken. Over a thousand jihad fighters clad in white clothes from Leihitu district have already been transported by motorboats, under the very nose of naval security units who were supposed to prevent the amassing of Muslims in the area. The PGI expressed its "deepest concern" over what it claimed were escalating attacks on Christian congregations in Maluku province over the past two weeks. "The massive attacks against Christian congregations is a direct consequence of the lack of transparency in the handling of the conflict in Maluku by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Police Force," the PGI statement said. "If accountability is not undertaken, then, taking into consideration the continuing violence and heeding the people's strong feelings, it would be best if Indonesian army and police forces were pulled out of Maluku and replaced with international peacekeepers. "We consider this conflict, which has been given a religious label, as an extermination of the indigenous Maluku people along with their social institutions to be replaced by another society whose form cannot yet be ascertained," said the statement signed by the PGI Chairman, and General Secretary. REQUEST FOR URGENT PRAYER Please alert all prayer partners to uphold Christians in Ambon before the Lord. The third phase of this religious-ethnic conflict began about a week ago. There are indications that the Muslim radical groups in Ambon are planning to take revenge on the local Christians and burn down the entireChristian quarters before the end of the current Ramadan, which will be on January 8-9, 2000. The plan is to destroy the Christian community like the Catholic capital of East Timor, Dilli, three months ago. CNN reports that the fight has turned ugly, as soldiers from various army and marine units are now disobeying their superiors and beginning to take sides, the Christian soldiers/marines supporting their Christian brothers pitted against Muslim soldiers who are siding with their fellow believers. Many Christians have already decided to leave their houses for fear of being shot at by the soldiers, and this will open many areas to attacks and further burnings. Snipers have been stationed in various strategic high rise buildings, and even the Chief of Police of Ambon was shot at when he drove by in his car. Armoured vehicles are also being used by the Muslim soldiers in this "unholy" war, whereas many civilians have been seen carrying grenades and using them effectively.
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