Christians Under Attack in Poso, Indonesia

Monday, December 10, 2001

Radical Islamic warriors are continuing their rain of terror on the Christians of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. A VOM source has confirmed that 21 Christian villages in the Poso coastal area have been burned and destroyed and at least 7 people have been killed within the past week.

"It seems that Muslim leaders have a double standard," said VOM spokesman Gary Lane. "They demanded the U.S. halt bombing in Afghanistan during Ramadan, but it is apparently okay for radical jihad warriors to terrorize Indonesian Christians during the Islamic holy month."

VOM confirms at least 600 homes and six churches were burned during the attacks that occurred November 26th -29th. The largest church in Poso was bombed and burned during the attacks and 15,000 Christians reportedly fled the area seeking refuge in the villages of Huasa and Sulewana.

"Christians resided in the Mulukus long before Islam arrived there, but it appears that these radical Muslims want to make the islands-especially Sulawesi-a Christian-free zone," said Lane.

According to several reports, well armed, uniformed, militant Laskar Jihad troops now have the Christian village of Tentena surrounded. 50,000 Christians apparently are at risk of slaughter in Tentena. In Jakarta, Bishop Mgr. Josef Suwatan told the Jakarta Post the Muslim rebels are mostly from East Java, not Sulawesi Island and they are equipped with AK-47 automatic weapons, rocket launchers and even circular saws and bulldozers. He urged the police and Indonesian military to protect the Christians of Poso by taking "tight measures to control the militiamen and disarm the local people."

But it appears the Indonesian government is doing little to send in additional troops to protect its own citizens from a possible massacre. According to the Jakarta Post, Poso Precinct Police Chief Unggung Cahyono said, "The number of attackers is too large for us, so security forces are unable to stop them."

"President Megawati has called for tolerance, peace and justice for people of different religions in Indonesia," said Lane. "More than words are needed now to protect Christians in Poso and throughout the Mulukus."

"Our concern at VOM is that while attention is focused on the atrocities of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the destruction of entire villages and the slaughter of innocent men, women and children in Indonesia is being ignored by the world community."

VOM is urging Americans to pray for Indonesian Christians during the National day of Reconciliation and Prayer December 4th. We also ask that concerned Christians take time to inform others-friends, relatives, government leaders-about the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters in Poso and the Muluku Islands.

Voice of the Martyrs. Used with Permission.