Indonesia: three Catholics face imminent execution

 Christian human rights organisation, the Jubilee Campaign, has received reports of plans to execute three Indonesian Christians this month. The three men in Sulawesi, Indonesia are: Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus Da Silva, 42, and Marinus Riwu, 48. They were charged with murder and inciting communal conflict in Poso, central Sulawesi, in 2000, and sentenced to death. The police chief of Palu, central Sulawesi, Brigadier General Oengroseno, announced in early March that their execution would be carried out this month. Jubilee says the men were not given a fair trial. The judges did not take into account the testimonies of the witnesses for the accused. These three Christians were simply trying to help unarmed Christian civilians who were under violent attack from Muslims and were in no way responsible for inciting the conflict. Although the men were convicted of murder and of fomenting sectarian violence, a great deal of evidence exists to show that they are innocent of any such crimes. A number of credible witnesses testified that the men had come to the conflict area for the sole purpose of rescuing women and children and removing them from the areas of danger. The three men maintain their innocence and say that their convictions resulted from irregularities during their trial. For instance, they contend that the judge in their case neglected even to consider the testimony of thirteen different witnesses (including the defendants themselves) that would have exonerated them. One such witness was Irwanto Hasan, who at the time was a member of the Poso Police Intelligence Division. He testified that the three were engaged in a humanitarian exercise when they were arrested. They had come to Poso after hearing reports that a Catholic church there had been burned in the sectarian violence. They entered the conflict zone to evacuate children from a church-run school in the village of Moengko. On the morning of May 23, 2000, a Muslim mob entered the village and set fire to the church-run school. The three men and the students escaped out the back door while the building burned to the ground. On 9 March, the Jakarta Post reported that the case against the three was being reviewed by the district court in Palu, central Sulawesi. This is a surprising development since their first judicial review was rejected in 2004. Christian observers in central Sulawesi are optimistic but cautious. Optimistic that the review is even taking place but cautious because Palu is a stronghold of Islamic fundamentalism. Despite the fact that many Muslims participated in the conflict, and some Muslims even now continue to perpetrate vicious terrorist attacks against Christians in central Sulawesi, not a single Muslim has so far been prosecuted and convicted for murdering Christians or for inciting communal conflict in that region. For example, on 29 October 2005, four Christian schoolgirls in central Sulawesi, were attacked by Muslim militants. Three of the girls were beheaded and one seriously injured. On the morning of 31 December 2005, a bomb was set off at a Christian marketplace in Palu city, central Sulawesi, killing at least eight people and injuring about 54 others. Jubilee Campaign has been campaigning to stop the execution of these three Christian men and is calling for them to be exonerated and released from prison. Jubilee has also been campaigning for the Indonesian authorities to apprehend and punish those responsible for the lethal attacks against Christians in central Sulawesi. Jubilee Campaign's Researcher and Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred Wong, said: " Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva, and Marinus Riwu should be highly commended for helping to rescue the school children from being burned to death by the Muslim mob, instead of being faced with execution. The Indonesian authorities have shown their blatant anti-Christian prejudice by giving high priority to prosecuting Christians in central Sulawesi while completely failing to stop the vicious terrorist attacks against Christians and failing to have those responsible for such attacks prosecuted and punished. If these three Christians are executed, this will not only be a gross miscarriage of justice but is likely to re-ignite Muslim-Christian violence in central Sulawesi. Pray that they will not be executed and that they will be exonerated and freed. Pray also for the protection of Christians in central Sulawesi and that those responsible for the anti-Christian violence are brought to justice." Jubilee Campaign is an interdenominational Christian human rights organisation which has worked with over 100 British Parliamentarians in campaigning on human rights issues worldwide. To read the text of a letter sent by Lord Alton to Jack Straw about the case see:

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