AHRC has been receiving increasingly alarming and desperate calls for attention for the rising violent situation throughout the Moluccan Islands, East Indonesia. The fighting between the Christian and Muslim populations, which began about 2 years ago through a seemingly inocuous conflict between a Muslim migrant and Christian taxi driver has grown into a sectarian war, fuelled by religious prejudices as well as political and economic interests. 

In the last week, the fighting, already spreading throughout the archipelago, has escalated with the arrival in Ambon of an estimated 2000 Muslim ¡°jihad(holy war) warriors¡± and prompted those who have been trying to hold out within the beleaguered areas to once more call for international help to end the violence. An appeal for protection of which they sent to the UN in February this year appears to have fallen on deaf ears. 

In Ambon, an AFP report on May 19 quotes Marnatha Protestant Church officials as saying: ¡°We have to request UN intervention because the government¡¯s security troops can no longer stand up to and top clashes in this province¡¦ has long ago been abandoned in Ambon and its surroundings¡±¡¦¡¦ : ¡°We are very intimidated by the presence of the Jihad force¡¦they have dominated most parts of Buru Island, and the whole area of Banda and Seram islands¡±. 

The Jesuit Refugees Service (JRS) quotes their source: ¡°Ambon is in extreme danger. The Jihad fighters coming from Java are launching fierce attacks, and the army and police are doing nothing. Only a small number of young Christians are trying to defend themselves without any weapons¡±¡¦.. 

JRS estimates that there are at present 80,000 refugees and displaced persons needing humanitarian assistance. 

Although the causes of the conflict in the North and South of Maluku are different, since the clashes started more than 3000 people have been killed and women have been systematically raped and tortured and hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee to other islands and provinces. Much has been destroyed, both materially and socially, as distress, pain, suspicion and fear drive the communities further apart and hopes of reconciliation fade away. 

The arrival of the ¡°jihad warriors¡± has also put the regional military command into a more difficult position, and they vent their anger at the Indonesian authorities for not stopping thethe fighters from leaving Java. With local commanders determined to stop the fighting also becoming more nervous about having to face the high powered weapons of the warriors and issuing orders to shoot on sight anybody with weapons, the cycle of violence will only rise. 

AHRC joins in with all the voices calling for an end to the killing, raping and destruction, and calls on the Indonesian government as well as the international community to heed the cries of the people and to take action to stop the violence immediately. 

We suggest the following action: 

Please write letters to: 

1. Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid, 
President of Indonesia, 
Presidential Palace, Jakarta 
Istana Negara, Indonesia. 
Fax: 62-21- 345 7782 

2. Mrs.Mary Robinson 
High Commissioner for Human Rights 
Palais des Nations 
1211 Geneva 10 
Fax: 41-22-917 9012 

Model Letter: 

Mr. President, Mdm High Commissioner, 

I respectfully draw your attention to the cries for help of the people of Maluku. 

I am writing to both of you at once, in order to stress the fact that it is necessary for you, each from his own position, to work together to stop the killing of innocent people and to relieve the suffering and fear which is now rampant. 

Whatever the causes of the present conflicts, many Christians and Muslims have lived harmoniously side by side on the islands for centuries and wish to continue to do so. They have no defense against those who exploit the situation for religious, political or economic reasons. 

Already hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and more than 3000 killed in the last 2 years of intermittent strive. Now thousands of self-proclaimed ¡°jihad¡± warriors with high powered weapons are pouring into Maluku and causing an escalation of terror, suffering and death. 

I implore you, on behalf of the peace-loving peoples of Maluku to do all in your power to stop the violence and destruction in this once paradise-like land. 

Trusting that you will not ignore the pleas of the people, 

Yours respectfully, 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Countries : Indonesia,