West Borneo: Bomb threats to a Church, Catholics in the crosshairs of Terrorists

June 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Asia, Indonesia, Persecution

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Bomb threats to a Church in West Borneo, Indonesia6/22/11 Indonesia (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church Stella Maris in Siantan Hulu, a village north of the city of Pontianak, the capital of western Borneo, is in the crosshairs of terrorists. On the evening of June 20 an anonymous phone call announced an imminent bomb attack. A woman’s voice, in fact, warned of a crude bomb planted near the building. The pastor, warned by a faithful, called the bomb squad who blew up a hidden object in the trash. It has been a while since attacks against the Christian minority, although in the past there have been incidents of sectarian violence.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Severianus Endy, a journalist in Pontianak, reports that the first phone call was addressed to a man named Beno, a Catholic pharmacist in the village. He immediately warned the pastor of Stella Maris, Fr. Sony Wengkang, who then contacted the police. “The threat came – said the priest – from an unidentified woman’s voice, calling from a cell phone. The number was not hidden.”

A bomb squad immediately intervened to verify the seriousness of the threat. Rummaging in the garbage, experts found a suspicious object inside a garbage can and they detonated it. Addressing the crowd of worshipers, the pastor said that the community should be notified in case of concrete threats, at the same time he sought to soothe tensions, calling Catholics to calm and social harmony. Meanwhile, police launched an investigation to trace those responsible.

In the past, Pontianak, West Borneo, was the scene of sectarian violence. The area is inhabited mostly by Indonesians of Chinese descent and native local Dayak ethnic group, Catholics. In 1999 they were involved in violent clashes with maduranesi migrants, from the island of Madura in East Java, and mostly Muslim.

Previously, other incidents of sectarian conflicts had occurred in 1997 and 1996. Only the intervention of the Indonesian army guaranteed the return of calm and order.

Papuans get support against police

June 11, 2011 by  
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Rights groups express ‘regret at violent acts’ during arrest operation

Konradus Epa, Jakarta
June 10, 2011

Activists and families of victims tell their storyThe Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) and Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) have urged the police chief in Jakarta to deal with a violence case in which they say dozens of Papuans living in the state capital were victimised.

“KontraS and LBH Jakarta have expressed regret about the violent acts that happened during an arrest operation against Papuans living in Jakarta, which was allegedly carried out by the Special Detachment 88 [a counter-terrorism squad and part of the Indonesian National Police], Kemayoran Subdistrict’s police, and central Jakarta district’s police in the early morning of May 28 in Wisma Cendrawasih, a home for Papuans living in Jakarta,” Tommy Albert Tobing from LBH Jakarta said in a statement issued by the rights groups at a press conference yesterday in central Jakarta.

He said the arrest operation was led by Muhammad Firman Norsa, who heads the district’s criminal investigation department.

“We urge the chief of Jakarta Metropolitan police department to carry out a proper investigation against those committing violent acts in the cruel arrests and ransacking,” he said.

He also hoped the police “can act professionally by carrying out an investigation into the perpetrators.”

Roberth Roland, a victim, recalled that his room door was knocked on and kicked by police members. “I was beaten and threatened with a gun,” he said, acknowledging that he had not done any criminal acts.

The arrest operation was carried out following the destruction of an Internet café by about 30 Papuans staying in the home on May 25, after a colleague was found wounded and unconscious because of torture allegedly carried out by the café owner.

Twelve Papuans were arrested during the operation. Seven have been released, while the other five are still detained.


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