By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
CENTRAL SULAWESI, INDONESIA (ANS) -- News has just been received by ASSIST News Service that at around 9 am this morning (Monday, October 16, 2006), the acting head of the Protestant Church in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, was assassinated. He was shot in the head on a street in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia â€“ the same region where three Catholic Christians were recently executed.
According to a message from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Reverend Irianto Kongkoli (40) was shopping with his wife when the gunman shot him in the back of his head and then fled on a motorcycle. He was rushed to the local hospital but the doctors were unable to save his life.
â€œThe assassination comes weeks after the execution of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva and Marinus Riwa who were accused of masterminding the sectarian violence in Central Sulawesi and for leading a violent attack against an Islamic school in 2000,â€ said the CSW message. â€œAt their trial Muslim witnesses spoke out in their defence and both Muslim and Christian leaders called for a stay of execution and re-trial.â€
According to Asianews, H. B. Paliudju, the governor of Central Sulawesi, is claiming the incident was not connected to the sectarian violence but rather to Rev. Kongkoliâ€™s objection to the executions. Governor Paliudju will reportedly be meeting with Indonesian Ministers, the police, the military and intelligence representatives to discuss the situation.
â€œOver the last two years, the Christian community has faced constant attacks by militants in the region, most notably the beheading of three Christian girls in October last year and the bombing in Tentena in May 2005,â€ said a CSW spokesperson. â€œThe security officials have made some arrests of Islamist militants responsible for the violence in recent months, but the lack of convictions has led Christian leaders to accuse the authorities of a biased approach in law enforcement.
â€œSome regional experts believe that the assassination is an attempt by Islamist militants to re-ignite the violence. There were several failed attempts to inflame the situation prior to and following the execution of the three men.â€
Reverend Kongkoli was the acting head of the Protestant Church of Central Sulawesi (GKST) after the Chairman, Reverend Rinaldy Damanik, submitted his resignation in protest at the recent executions.
Reverend Kongkoli is reported to have been an important religious leader, working tirelessly to support peace and interfaith dialogue. He had notably highlighted the failure to properly investigate and enforce the law when addressing incidents of sectarian violence in Central Sulawesi. A statement is expected later from the GKST church.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, says: â€œOur thoughts and prayers are with Rev. Kongkoliâ€™s family at this time. We urge the authorities in Central Sulawesi to condemn this tragic loss of life, making every effort to ensure that agitators do not succeed in restarting sectarian violence. We also call on the authorities to ensure that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice and that the law enforcement officials act in an impartial manner.â€
For more information, please contact Penny Hollings, Campaigns and Media Manager at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 20 8329 0045, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.csw.org.uk.
CSW is a human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.