02/03/2004, 00.00
indonesia

Signs of reconciliation in the Moluccas

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Small signs of hope are growing in the civil war-torn Moluccas region. A meeting was held in London from Jan. 19-28 to encourage the region's reconstruction and reconciliation process. The meeting was sponsored by the International Christian-Islamic Organization for Reconstruction and Reconciliation and the British ministry of foreign affairs. Local government representatives, warring parties, religious leaders, local citizens as well as directors of Christian and Muslim organizations from Amboina participated in the talks.

Among those participating were: Muslim leaders Thamrin Ely and M. Nasir Rahawarin ; Msgr. Petrus C. Mandagi, bishop of Ammoina; Rev. Izac Hendricks (President of the Protestant Synod), A. Malawat (the raja of Mamala), Msgr. Jacklevyn Manuputty, Dr. Jusuf Idrus Tatuhey, MS; Rev. Johny Ruhulessin; M. Tuanaya (the raja of Kailolo), J.S. Ohorella (the raja of Tulehu); Th. Maitimu (the raja of Passo); C. Tamaela (the raja of Souhoku), Bupati Hasan Doa and Marcus Jacob Papilaja MS, mayor of Amboina.

The assembly established the "Moluccas Committee", which will act as a consulting body and form a certain number of work groups. The main group will work on the traditional system of law called Adat.  Its purpose is to increase local government sensitivity and to style new legislation along with members of local governments. Moreover, the group will make sure that courses on Moluccas tradition and culture are added to school programs.   

The group for Reconstruction and Government will promote small and mid-size industry to improve the state of the economy; promote sports projects; make provisions for orphaned children of parents killed in conflicts; and create social services for residents in regions outside Amboina. Among other things the group will organize courses for citizens to inform them of their rights, increase the presence of police forces, while lessening that of the army, and build up water supply infrastructures. 

The assembly also specified the duties of the "Inter-Religious Committee", founded in 2003 and composed of 6 members –2 representatives from each religious group: the Moluccas Protestant Church, the Catholic Diocese of Amboina and the Islamic Clergy Council. The committee has the responsibility of teaching values pertaining to each faith while promoting peaceful and respectful community living. The committee, in addition, instructs citizens on dangers found in hatred and violence and encourages dialog between members of different faiths. The committee also has the import role of specifically concerning itself with children's needs, as well as those of women, families and young people.

Ethnic-religious clashes in the Moluccas islands began in Jan. 1999. Civil war between Muslims and Christians led to thousands of children being left orphaned and caused many to flee the region while churches were burned and people killed. Thousands of people have lost their lives as a result. Despite the signing of a peace treaty between Muslims and Christians in February 2002, small outbursts of violence continue to compromise the shaky agreement.
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