'Complete Chaos and Lack of Order' now Reported on the Indonesian Island of Ambon:

Tuesday, August 8, 2000

'Complete Chaos and Lack of Order' now Reported on the Indonesian Island of Ambon: 'Systematic attempt to exterminate all Christians on the Island'

By Michael Ireland
Senior Correspondent
ASSIST Communications

AMBON, INDONESIA (Aug. 8, 2000) -- Reports of an "ethnic-cleaning" style religious war by Muslims against Christians on the Indonesian island of Ambon continue to be received from eyewitnesses on site.

One correspondent in New Zealand wrote: "Some have asked for further reports on the situation in Ambon. Several also expressed doubts that things could have become that bad without CNN making it big news. Actually, there have been a number of newspaper articles in Australia and the South Pacific reporting this story. I have been receiving reports for several months myself. Things are grim, but 'wholesale slaughter' has thus far been averted, praise God. However, many have been killed and thousands are in refugee camps. Thank you for praying."

A prayer update from the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention dated August 2, 2000 states: "First, I want to ask your continued prayer for Christians in the Ambon area of Indonesia. In answer to your fervent prayer, God stayed the hands of the Islamic jihad warriors who had threatened death to all Christians who remained in the area after Monday. Although the situation remains tense, the attacks did not happen, and there is quiet.

"Thank God for this, and then let's unite our hearts together again in prayer, asking Him to protect believers there while convicting their tormentors of the truth of the gospel..."

Yet another report says: "[*name withheld*] left the beginning of this week and is on the island with his sister, her pastor husband (who were with a pastor in Ambon about a month ago and several hours later, the pastor was murdered), and two people from a local church here. They are hoping to alert the world as to what is going on -- which is the killing of innocent Christians. [*name withheld*] has visited three refuge camps, each with about 2,000 people living in them with only 2-3 helpers per camp. The camps have no food, water, clothing, medication or sewage facilities.

"People are laying [sic] in the 'streets' dying. As I am writing it is noon in Ambon (11 pm here)... Yesterday 2-3 Christians were killed (shot in the streets)."

In a letter dated August 2 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the New Zealand government, Maire Leadbeater, writing for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee, said: "I am aware of your concern about the situation in Maluku where escalating violence has already resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.

"There are reports that whole communities have been decimated and reliable agencies such as Medecins sans Frontieres say that there is now 'complete chaos and lack of order.'

"It is difficult to understand how the Laskar Jihad Islamic militants could have been allowed to travel to Maluku last May and how they have apparently been able to terrorize the population without any intervention from the authorities.

"You may be aware that it is widely believed that the conflict is being fuelled by members of the former elite in order to undermine the new democratic reforms and to cement the military in an ongoing position of power. There may also be roots to this conflict in old local disputes and in perceptions of preferential treatment of one community over another.

"However, it is undisputed that the military has been taking sides, and as the military spokesperson put it 'becoming emotionally involved.'

"The latest reports describe a new wave of 'religious cleansing' of a systematic attempt to move out or exterminate all Christians in Ambon. The internal displacement of people is huge and it is thought that many will die from disease and starvation under the terrible conditions of their refuges in the hills and jungles, or sheltering in churches and offices. Food and medicine are critically lacking.

"We understand that there have been calls for the intervention of United Nations peace keepers and also that the European Union is urging to be allowed to send an observer mission..."