Indonesia: More forced conversions in the Moluccas

Fresh reports of forced conversions are emerging from the Moluccas this week. (See Moluccan Christians told to embrace Islam or die, ICN, 22 November.) The Jubilee campaign told ICN on Saturday that that 75 Christians in Bonvia, 215 in Solan and 300 in Dawang villages have been coerced by Muslim militants to change their religion to Islam.

Two hundred and forty five Christians in Salas village still holding out against the pressure to convert and are now attempting to flee to safety. Rev Jacky Manuputty, a Moluccan Protestant pastor, is organising the evacuation of 400 Christians from Hatu. He said Christians in Muslim-controlled areas have only three choices: to convert to Islam, to refuse and be killed, or to try to run away.

Fleeing can be extremely dangerous. Some Christians have died of starvation or exposure in the forests while escaping from the Muslim militants. Others have drowned on boats which capsized and sank because of overcrowding.

The Islamic militants, many of whom are from other Indonesian provinces, have pledged to kill, convert or drive out all the centuries-old Christian communities in the Molluccas. Last week, 415 new Jihad fighters arrived in Ambon, reinforcing concerns that the Islamic fundamentalists are preparing yet another major offensive against the remaining Moluccan Christian community.

Moluccan Christian leaders have appealed for UN peacekeepers to be stationed in the Moluccas, because many members of the Indonesian military has joined with the Islamic militants in attacking Christians. But the Indonesian government is refusing to allow UN intervention. Moluccan church leaders see the UN peacekeepers as the only neutral security force that can protect their community. About 5,000 people have died since the sectarian violence started in January 1999. More than 400 churches have been destroyed and about 300,000 people have been internally displaced.

Jubilee Campaign's Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred Wong, says: "These forced conversions are part of the Islamic militants' objective of totally eradicating Christianity in the Moluccas. Sadly, the international community and the Indonesian government appear prepared to look the other way while the Moluccan Christians are wiped out."

If you would like to help Jubilee's campaign for Moluccan Christians, write to: Wilfred Wong, c/o Ian Bruce MP, Room 201, Norman Shaw South, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2HZ.

For further information you can call Wilfred Wong: on 020 7219 5129. Jubilee Campaign is an interdenominational Christian human rights organisation which has worked with over 150 British parliamentarians in campaigning issues in many countries around the world, including Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Brazil and Guatemala.

Tags: Forced Conversion

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