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Ambon talks end in disaray AMBON - A meeting of Christian and Muslim leaders and National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar ended in disarray here on Monday, after conflicting parties failed to reach an agreement to cease the renewed clashes in Ambon, Maluku. The breakdown in the talks is expected to worsen the sectarian conflict in the restive city, where at least 38 people have died in renewed clashes that erupted on April 25, triggered by a separatist rally.
Separately, police said they would charge the wife and daughter of exiled Maluku separatist leader Alex Manuputty with subversion-related offenses. Monday's meeting became heated after Maluku police and military chiefs prohibited local Muslim leaders from reading out a statement on their stance over the violence on April 25, the 54th anniversary of the declaration of the South Maluku Republic (RMS). When Da'i was leaving the venue, he was suddenly stopped by Muslim leader Abdurachman Nivinubun who was dissatisfied with the meeting, which was conducted without a dialog between participants.
The forum was closed after Da'i, noted Muslim preacher Abdullah "Aa Gym" Gymnastiar and Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) chairman Nathan Setiabudi gave speeches. Abdurachman's spontaneous move surprised other meeting participants. Pattimura military commander Maj. Gen. Syarifuddin Sumah and other local senior officers tried to calm Abdurachman, but the latter insisted on speaking. "Allow me to speak here. National Police chief, I want to talk to you for a while. The current unrest, which is a continuation of the April 25 incident, is part of a big scenario aimed at destroying Maluku," Abdurachman told Da'i.
He argued that the security forces were powerless in preventing activists from the Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM) from staging a separatist rally on April 25. Similarly, Christian youth leader Josias Polnaya lamented that the Da'i-led meeting had failed to bring about a peaceful solution, as it did not give the chance for participants to air their views or grievances. Josias said the fresh violence was part of attempts by outsiders to disrupt the ethnic harmony between people in religiously segregated Maluku, who lived in relative peace after a peace accord signed in early 2002 to end three years of fighting that began in January 1999.
In a response, Da'i said the police would take action "proportionally and professionally" to stop the sectarian conflict. He also pledged to deal with RMS separatists before leaving the venue. The chaos lasted for only a few minutes as both Muslim and Christian participants refrained from blaming each other for the new clashes. However, the Muslim group, in its statement that was not read out at the meeting, firmly demanded that the police resolve all FKM/RMS cases thoroughly within three days.
The Muslim participants also urged the police to replace all personnel from Maluku with those from outside the province in order to stop alleged partiality. According to another participant Hasan Ohorella, the Maluku authorities asked that the statement not to be read out at the meeting because it could disrupt the forum. Meanwhile, the police said at least 35 RMS members, including Oly and Christine Manuputty -- the wife and daughter of exiled Maluku pro-independence leader Alex Manuputty, were detained and would face subversion charges. FKM secretary-general Moses Tuanakotta was also among those detained at the Maluku Police headquarters.
Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Bambang Sutrisno promised to complete their case files soon so as to submit them to prosecutors. He said the police were hunting down other separatist members still at large. Earlier, Da'i said the trials for the charged RMS leaders would be held outside Maluku to prevent possible violence. Meanwhile, the security situation was much calmer in Ambon on Monday amid heavy rain. No shooting or blasts were heard, despite rumors that Laskar Jihad hard-liners would head to Ambon as they did in the previous conflict. Maluku Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu told Antara that he had ordered security forces to remove the various makeshift barricades erected by residents during the melee.


Link to related event Related event:
Violence in Maluku


Posted in Maluku conflict @ 04 May 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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