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Moluccas violence may escalate without action - report

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 5 Oct 2011 17:07 GMT
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BANGKOK (AlertNet) - The Indonesian government must act quickly to stop further bloodshed following an outbreak of sectarian violence in its Moluccas islands last month, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a briefing this week.

The Moluccas, in the eastern part of predominantly Muslim Indonesia, has a substantial Christian population.

The unrest on Sept. 11 in Ambon, the provincial capital, followed the death of Darfin Saimin, a Muslim motorcycle taxi driver, amid disputed circumstances.

The violence resulted in seven more deaths, the destruction of more than 150 Muslim and Christian homes, and the displacement of thousands, according to the Brussels-based think tank.

The police said Darfin’s death was an accident, but text messages saying he had been tortured and killed by Christians fuelled two days of violence.

“The government must quickly answer questions about how the violence started, who opened fire and why, as well as rebuild homes and address the needs of (the) newly displaced without the usual corruption,” the briefing said.

“An independent forensic analysis of Darfin’s death and quick rehabilitation of burned-out neighbourhoods would help,” it added.

The ICG said the Moluccas violence may also have motivated the Sept. 25 suicide bombing of a church in Solo in Central Java, which injured 27 people.

The report called for an independent review of local police performance, and urged the government, civil society and donors to intensify efforts to build better links between communities.

“The local police failed on every count: community relations, intelligence, investigative capabilities and basic preparedness,” ICG Senior Adviser Sidney Jones said in a statement.

Sectarian violence between the majority Christians in the Moluccas and Muslim settlers from other parts of Indonesia killed more than 9,000 people between 1999 and 2002, but the area has been largely peaceful since an accord was signed in 2002.

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