The Thorn Street Chronicles
"I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." Jude 1:3b
Indonesia 2000: East Timor, Moluccas
In 1975 the mainly Christian province of East Timor was invaded by Indonesia and annexed in 1976. Over the next twenty-four years more than 200,000 East Timorese (25 % of the population) died under Indonesian oppression and for their independence. Then Indonesia – a country neglected by the international media until the grave East Timor crisis erupted in 1999 – could no longer be ignored. On 6 Aprill 2000 at a rally in Jakarta--5, 000 Islamic extremists called for a jihad against the majority Christian population in the Moluccas [Malukus] Spice Islands. By early May 2000, at least I,000 LaskarJihad (Holy War warriors) assembled in the Moluccas. These warriors came from Indonesia, and later from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines. The following descriptions are taken from a reliable source. They were published in January 2001 by the Barnabas Fund (UK, under the title: Indonesia 2000: Genocide of a Christian Minority, and slightly updated since then. (www. barnasfund. org.)
[In the Malukus] one by one the Christian villages were attacked in what appeared to be a well planned and coordinated each village the church and houses would be set on fire, and the villagers would flee for safety. Those who could not escape in time were killed. The Christians were gradually pushed back into smaller and smaller "safe" areas, as Laskar Jihad warriors pursued their aim of cleansing the islands of Christians.
Over 1,000 people were butchered in a single raid. In another, 200 were killed and their bodies horribly mutilated. In June, some 200 Christians sheltering in a church were attacked with machetes. The church was then surrounded and set on fire. At least 100 Christians died in the blaze. In another incident three children were tied up and dragged to their deaths behind a speeding car. At Duma, Halmahera island, 135 people were killed in one attack and nearly 300 Christian women and girls were abducted. They are believed to have been taken to another island where they have been raped.
In July 2000 the Christian university in Ambon city was destroyed. By September several islands had been cleansed of all Christians, and still the attacks continued, now focusing on the island of Saparua. [...]
On 15 November 2000 Jaffar Umar Thalib, the leader of the Laskar Jihad stated: "We intend during this Ramadan [which was to start 1 ! days later] to... carry out various activities paving the way for full Shari'ah [Islamic law] at least in places that have now become exclusively Islam, such as the islands of Ternate, Tidore and Bacan." The chilling reason that these islands have recently become 100% Muslim is that all their Christian inhabitants have been killed or driven out. [...]
Many Christian villages had been wiped out, and an estimated 75% of Ambon island itself had been cleansed of Christians. Forty percent of Ambon city lay in ashes. [pp. 2-3]
Forced Conversions to Islam
In November 2000 the first reports of forced conversions began to emerge. In that month, 700 Christians on Ceram island were warned that they would be killed if they did not become Muslims. Hundreds of them signed a document stating that they had become Muslims, learnt to recite parts of the Qur'an and performed Islamic prayers five times a day. News later emerged that another 5,000 Christians on the island had been forced to convert earlier in the year. Many of the women had been forcibly married to Muslim men, thus effecting their conversion to Islam, at least in the eyes of their Muslim attackers.
On Bacan island 1,150 Christian men and boys were reported to have been forcibly circumcised (as a sign of conversion to Islam). Elsewhere a whole village was captured and told that they would be released if they gave up their village elders and church leaders. The elders and leaders surrendered themselves and were beheaded. The rest of the villagers, both men and women, were forcibly circumcised. Any who resisted were killed.
On Kesui and Teor islands, at least 615 Christians have been forced to embrace Islam. [...]
After the attacks, the Christian survivors were gathered into several mosques and forced on pain of death to perform conversion rituals, including ritual washing and reciting the Islamic creed. Two teachers who refused to convert were killed. On December 3 and 4, hundreds of men and women were circumcised, without painkillers or antiseptic, causing heavy bleeding and infection. [p. 6]
By December 2000 there were approximately 487,000 Christian refugees from the Malukus, according to the estimates of the Ambon-based human rights group, the Masariku Network, and the Maranatha Church in Ambon. Of these, some 300,000 have fled from the Malukus to other parts of Indonesia, and the rest are displaced within the Malukus region. [...]
On Halmahera, thousands of Christians from the island itself are now homeless and destitute. There are also on the island an estimated 70,000 Christian refugees who have fled from the religious cleansing on other islands to Halmahera. Amongst the homeless are at least 8,000 pre-school children and babies, in desperate need of milk, medication and other basics. Many of the child refugees have lost their parents in the conflict. One theological school on the island is caring for 545 orphans aged 0 to 12. [p. 7]
[On 24 December 2000] twenty-four bombs had exploded almost simultaneously outside churches in nine cities and towns across Indonesia, including the capital Jakarta, the night before as Christians gathered for Christmas Eve services. At least eighteen people were killed and more than 120 injured. A further twenty-one bombs would also have exploded but were discovered and defused by the police. Some of these had been sent gift-wrapped to church ministers.
[...] At least 5,000 Christians (probably many more) have been killed in the past two years, and an estimated 487,000 have been forced to flee their homes. Some 7,000 have been forcibly converted to Islam. At least 455 church buildings have been destroyed, as well as countless thousand Christian homes, shops and a Christian university. [p. 1]
Appeals for help from Christians in the Malukus have largely gone unheard and unheeded by the international community. A group of Ambonese Christian leaders came to Geneva and London in July 2000 and appealed for international help. In December the Bishop of Amboina made an impassioned "SOS appeal" to Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, highlighting not only the butchery and destruction but also the large-scale forced conversions. But there has been minimal interest or response. [p. 8]
Appeal of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Amboina, the Rt. Rev. Peter Mandagi, to the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
(19 December 2000)
From the very start of the conflict up to now many law violations have taken place, both violations of human rights and violations of civil law, both by the local population and by government authorities and institutions. There have been countless acts of savagery, depravedness [sic] and criminality, such as torturing, raping of women and other sexual abuse, persecution, slaughtering, looting and destroying [of property... Most of the victims are just simple people, who are poor and defenseless, innocent and blameless...The criminals, lawbreakers and human rights violators are roaming about and undertake any mischief at leisure. So what is prevailing now is the law of the jungle, barbarism and savagery... We appeal to the international community to assist the Indonesian Government in ending the conflict in the Moluccas."
Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, Cranbury, NJ, 2002), 414-417.