Meditation Focus #10
VIOLENT CLASHES BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS
IN THE MALUKUS, INDONESIA
(Web posted on July 7, for the week beginning Sunday, July 9)
What follows is the tenth Meditation Focus suggested by the Global Meditation Focus Group for the week beginning Sunday July 9.
VIOLENT CLASHES BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN THE MALUKUS, INDONESIA
2. Meditation Times
3. More on the situation in The Malukus
The recent outbreak of religious violence between Muslims and Christians in the Moluccan islands (The Malukus) has killed more than 168 people, and trapped tens of thousands in makeshift camps. The violence is part of a pattern of general religious unrest in the Moluccas, which has been going on since January 1999, claiming the lives of thousands of civilians in total. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, with about 90 percent of its population following Islam, but the population in the Moluccas is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. Tension between the two communities grew following the downfall of former President Suharto, and was fuelled by the Christian community's feeling that their influence in politics and commerce is declining.
Please hold in your heart and mind a vision, as guided by Spirit during your meditation, of forgiveness, love, understanding, and mutual respect prevailing in the Moluccas, so that healing and peaceful negotiations can occur between the communities. May peace prevail in the Moluccas, for the highest good of all.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes with a special Earth Healing Focus in the last few minutes.
ii) Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT: Honolulu 06:00 -- Los Angeles 09:00 -- Denver & San Salvador 10:00 -- Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 11:00 -- New York, Toronto, Montreal, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 -- Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 13:00 -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 16:00 -- London, Algiers & Lagos 17:00 -- Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Johannesburg & Madrid 18:00 -- Athens, Helsinki, Jerusalem, Nairobi & Istanbul 19:00 -- Moscow & Baghdad 20:00 -- Tehran 20:30 -- Islamabad 21:00 -- Calcutta & New Delhi 21:30 -- Dhaka 22:00 -- Rangoon 22:30 -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 23:00 -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur 00:00+ -- Seoul & Tokyo 01:00+ -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne 02:00+ -- Wellington 04:00+
(+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time)
3. MORE ON THE SITUATION IN THE MOLUCCAS
i) Current Situation
On June 26 the Indonesian authorities declared a state of civil emergency in the Moluccan islands amid escalating violence between Christians and Muslims. The conflict erupted in January 1999 when communal fighting broke out amid a breakdown of law and order following the downfall of former President Suharto. The communal conflict then polarized into a Christian-Muslim conflict. According to government figures, an estimated 4,000 people have since been killed while half a million have fled to other islands and provinces in fear of their lives. Residents have described cowering inside their homes as their neighbourhoods were peppered with mortar and sniper fire. Although international relief agencies are already involved, some of the leading agencies have had to suspend operations in the face of the recent violence and many of the hardest hit areas are without assistance. Local sources in the Molucca Islands say the security forces are now too divided to contain the violence, and many military units are openly fighting alongside the warring Christian and Muslim communities.
ii) Root Causes
While Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, with about 90 percent of its population following Islam, about 60 percent of Moluccans are Muslims, with Christians making up most of the remainder. It is said that for generations the religious communities lived harmoniously in adjoining villages, according to a traditional alliance known as pela. Under pela, Christians and Muslims lived harmoniously in adjoining villages, helping to build each other's places of worship.
The chief city of the southern Moluccas, Ambon, was once the capital of the Dutch East Indies. When Indonesia declared independence from the Dutch in 1945, many Ambonese, especially those who had become Christians, felt a close affinity with the Dutch and resisted incorporation in the Indonesian republic. Some believe that growing tensions between Christians and Muslims erupted into violence after Ambonese Christians called on republican supporters in the Netherlands to help them arrest a decline in their community's influence. Several of the Muslim villages that have figured prominently in the recent conflict were razed by republican forces in 1950, and the bitterness remains.
Christians are reported to be resentful of Muslim migrants taking an increasing number of positions of influence as well as greater control of the region's business activity in a Muslim majority state. On the other hand, some national Muslim political parties are reported to see Ambon as evidence of Islam under siege by a Christian minority resentful of its declining influence. However, according to the Human Rights Watch, the Indonesian military provoked the violence in the Moluccas in an attempt to prevent last year's general election from taking place, and to restore its influence and control, which had declined when President Suharto's military rule ended in May 1998.
The situation in the Moluccas is believed to have been exacerbated recently by the arrival in May of an estimated 2,000 members of the extremist Laskar Jihad Muslim militia group, most of whom reportedly came from Java to wage a holy war against the Christian community. There have also been widespread rumors and unconfirmed reports of unidentified provocateurs instigating violence. Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid has alleged that still powerful supporters of former President Suharto are behind the continued conflict.
Thursday, July 6
Calls for foreign intervention amid renewed violence in Malukus
JAKARTA, July 6 (AFP) -
Muslim-Christian violence flared again in Indonesia's riot-torn Ambon on Thursday as calls intensified for international intervention to halt the more than 18 months of violence that has left some 4,000 killed. Ten days into a civil state of emergency declared in the Malukus in an effort to stem the sectarian bloodshed there, hundreds of Muslims attacked a Christian village on the eastern Indonesian island of Ambon. Christians charged that army troops had joined the attackers.
"Waai village on the northeastern coast of Ambon (island) has been under attack by Muslims backed by security personnel since around 6:00 a.m.GMT Wednesday)," said Sammy Weileruni, an official of the Christian coordination post at the Maranatha church in Ambon city. He said radio reports from Waai, a village some 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) northeast of Ambon city, said at least four villagers had already been killed and several houses were torched.
"The village is being showered with mortars, bullets and various kinds of explosives," Weileruni said. He said witnesses spoke of soldiers among the attackers, and called for the deployment of international peacekeepers. "Nobody trusts the (Indonesian) security personnel any more and the only way out is having neutral foreign forces deployed here," Weileruni said.
"We have been begging for food, medical aid from foreign countries, what is the difference with begging for aid in the form of troops?," he said. He pointed out that the military and police had let Muslim militants enter the Malukus from Java, further fuelling the violence against Christians.
An Indonesian navy ship on Wednesday intercepted a boat carrying some 250 members and the leader of the Jihad Force, a militant Muslim group, heading to North Halmahera, the scene of the fiercest and bloodiest sectarian fighting in the Malukus. Navy Lieutenant Commander Agus Subagyo was quoted by the Media Indonesia daily as saying the leader and his members were detained.
The call for international intervention was taken up in Jakarta Thursday by a group of some 50 Muslim and Christian Moluccans, who picketted the British embassy. They said they were making a round of all missions of all members of the UN Security Council.
In a written statement, the group said that the Indonesian army had proved powerless to stop the conflict and urged London to send "international observers and security forces as soon as possible." The statement cited "the failure of (Indonesia's) security management policy, the active and systematic involvement of the security apparatus in the conflict and brutal and barbaric violations of human rights."
It also called on Britain to press for a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) presence in the islands to cope with the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the violence there. The group also called on Security Council members to exert pressure on Indonesia, including through aid, to force it to accept the deployment of the international forces in the Malukus.
MORE IN FULL COVERAGE AT http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com/fc/World/Indonesia/
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