Apr 16, 2002

Briefing on the situation in the South Moluccas held at the UNPO Secretariat and Geneva

A group of 25 people, including UNPO staff, on 1 May 2002, attended a briefing on the deplorable state of human rights in the South Moluccas, despite the signing of a Peace Pact in Feburary this year. It is estimated that more than 9000 people have already died since the current spiral of violence started three years ago.

Representatives participating in the briefing included Dominggus Pattiwaellapia, Alexander Tahapary (Presidium RMS), Maria Manu and Vency Rugebregt (both university students from the Moluccas), Christine Solulairs (Moluccan Human Rights Organisation) and Frieda Souhuwat-Tomasoa, UNPO Steering Committee member and representative of the South Moluccas to the UNPO.

Vency Rugebregt, a student and refugee from the Moluccas, gave a first-hand account of the ongoing violence. ”We had to cross the sea by boat (to escape the violence), others swam or crossed on their cows…we were shot at by the Indonesian army as we fled for our lives.” Maria Manu, also a student, reported that Indonesian Special Forces, sent to the Moluccas to keep the peace, often participated in, or initiated the violence. The violence has left their village with no teachers or schools and the university was burned down to the ground.

Christine Solulairs of the Moluccan Human Rights Organisation in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, reported numerous accounts of continued bombings and growing tensisons on the islands caused by militant Jihad groups. She reported that the militant Laskar Jihad group is supported by the KOPASSUS (Indonesian Special Forces) in Ambon, the capital of South Moluccas. The Laskar Jihad is said to be responsible for an attack on Christians in Soya, just outside Ambon on April 28, 2002, which included bombings and grenade explosions. Twelve masked men armed with guns, daggers and grenades cut the electricity supply just prior to the attack, and then went from house to house, indiscriminantly shooting the occupants. Others were prevented from escaping the attack by what was described as ”well-trained, armed (men) with M-16 rifles and wearing military fatigues blocking the escape routes.” Thirty homes and a church were burned down, and 14 people were stabbed to death, including a six month old baby in just this one of many violent outbreaks in the region.

The briefing on the situation in the Moluccas was also given at the Commission of Human Rights in Geneva, 15 April 2002