09/22/2006, 00.00
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Calm follows riots caused by execution of three Catholics

by Benteng Reges
The execution by firing squad of three Catholic men in Palu sparked protest in various parts of Indonesia. In predominantly Catholic Nusa Tenggara Timur province order has been restored. Tibo's son says father asked for forgiveness, not vengeance. Requiem mass is held in Palu without the bodies.

Palu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Things are under control in Nusa Tenggara Timur province after violence broke out following the execution by firing squad of three Catholic men: Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, Security Minister Admiral Widodo Adisutjipto reported.

In Atambua, a predominantly Catholic town, people took to the streets and rioters broke into the jail, freeing some 200 inmates. Only 20 prisoners had so far returned, police said.

Rioters also damaged the state prosecutor's office and stone his house.

Demonstrators protested against the trio's execution in Palu that appeals and criticism had failed to stop, but Indonesian Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin was not prepared to blame the Atambua incidents on the executions—"it's too early to tell".

Calm was quickly restored in town thanks in part to the appeals of Mgr Anton Pain Ratu, Atambua's bishop.

In Palu, Bishop Joseph Suwatan, whose diocese includes Western and Central Sulawesi, called on the faithful to respect public order.

Robert, Tibo's eldest son, told people: "My father, before dying, asked that no one seek vengeance, but rather forgive."
For days the authorities in Central Sulawesi and other potential hotspots have been tightening security in anticipation of possible reactions to the three men's death.

Religious and human rights organisations as well as some political leaders believe that the trial that led to the trio's death was unfair. International protests and appeals proved in vain.

The Holy See yesterday expressed its sorrow. For Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, "the news is very sad and painful. Every time the death penalty is carried out it is a defeat for humanity."

The three men were scheduled to be executed on August 12, but they were given a reprieve after Pope Benedict XVI made a plea for clemency to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Tibo, Riwu and da Silva were found guilty in 2001 for masterminding a massacre of Muslims during sectarian clashed the year before in Poso.

The trio's relatives continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones. Although the authorities banned the funerals from taking place in Palu's St Mary's Cathedral as the three men had requested, thousands of people crowded into the church for a requiem mass without bodies.

Tibo and Riwu were buried in Beteleme, in Central Sulawesi. Da Silva's remains remained in Palu for "security reasons".

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See also
Three Indonesian Catholics executed by firing squad
Charges that the bodies of three Catholics executed in Indonesia show signs of violence
Three men sentenced to death denied last Sacraments in Indonesia
Second appeal to reopen case of three Catholics sentenced to death rejected
Second clemency request for Catholics sentenced to death over Poso violence