CRISIS CENTRE DIOCESE OF AMBOINA
Ambon, April 9, 2001
THE SITUATION IN AMBON / MOLUCCAS Report no. 162
1. REFUGEES RETURN TO BACAN We read in Suara Maluku daily about returning of refugees to the island of Bacan [pronounced Batjan ] and other islands in the North Moluccas. On April 6, a warship departed from Ternate to Sorong (Papua) in order to meet some 1.500 christians who had fled to Sorong since January 2000, and bring them back to the island of Bacan. A special team of high ranking civil and military officials, left for Surabaya on April 8, to try and bring back about 4.000 Javanese transmigrants from Banyuwangi, Jember dan Ponogoro (East Java) to their homesteads at Toliwang, region of Kao, Halmaherea. On earlier occasion 200 people who had fled to Tobelo, North Halmahera, had already been returned to Bacan, where, for the time being, they are staying now at the Market Building of Labuha, the capital of the region. On April 20, 350 christian refugees, now staying at Bitung, North Celebes, will be returned to their original homesteads.
An estimated 39.000 christian refugees from the North Moluccan islands of Ternate, Tidore, Morotai and Halmahera are still staying in Manado and Bitung. It has been programmed that these will be brought back after the muslim refugees at Ternate will be returned to Halmahera, for part of the undamaged christian houses in the town of Ternate are being used by moslem refugees now.
On April 4, moslem refugees, staying at Ternate island, were brought back on a warship to their villages in the region of Ibu (North Halmahera).
2. MUI PRAISES APPEAL BY GPM SYNOD About a fortnight ago the Synod of the Moluccan Protestant Church (GPM) published and spread an appeal, to be read in all GPM churches. Up to yesterday (Sunday) this letter was still quoted and explained by the ministers in their churches. It contained an appeal to the christians to refrain from any violence, even when provoked by certain rumours or facts. It also denounced any separatist intentions. Any action towards disintegration of the Republic of Indonesia would not be tolerated. According to Siwalima daily, the secretary of the MUI (leading Islam Board), Mr. Malik Selang, appreciated this appeal as an important step towards reconciliation.
Received via e-mail from : Crisis Centre Diocese of Amboina