05/04/2006, 00.00
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7,000 march and pray for death row Catholics

by Benteng Reges

In Flores, a procession, three km long, recited the rosary, as per tradition, and called for the release of Tibo and his friends.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Around 7,000 Catholics took part in a 3-km long "prayer procession" in Flores, Eat Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province, calling for the release of Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwa and Dominggus da Silva. On this island with a Catholic majority, the rosary is usually prayed on 1 May. This year, members of the community of the parish of St Marie Banneux of Lewoleba decided to unite their commitment to save the three Catholics to their prayer. Their three fellow patriots are on death row, convicted of their role in inter-religious clashes in Poso, Central Sulawesi, in 2000. So far, the three men are the only ones who were found guilty of any part in the conflict; no light has been shed on this conflict as yet, but then, perhaps there is no will to do so.

During the recital of the rosary, flyers were distributed, calling on the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to take the case of Tibo and his friends into serious consideration, in the name of "equal justice" and the "value of human life". The large rally was organized by young Catholics of the parish of Lewoleba, Lembata regency.

In the afternoon, Fr Hironuimus Kaja Kwure launched the march with a prayer. Pieter Wawin, a youth from Lamahora parish addressed the crowd: "We strongly hope that all residents of Lembata listen to our voice of concern for the fate of three condemned men. We call on all Catholics to unite with us in expecting a fair trial and the release of Tibo and his friends."

On 2 May in Kupang, the capital of NTT province, the group of lawyers defending the three Catholics issued a statement, underlining the need of Susilo's intervention in the matter, so that the names of those who really masterminded the bloody events in 2000 will come out. Last year, the president turned down the first request for grace for the condemned Catholics and he has still not pronounced himself about the second. PADMA – this is the name of the group of lawyers – has also urged the authorities to shed light on the "enigma of the violence in Poso".

The three Catholics were condemned for the massacre of 200 Muslims that happened in the context of the wider inter-faith conflict that shook the province of Sulawesi between 1998 and 2001
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See also
Execution of three Catholics postponed amid Jakarta rallies
Card. Darmaatmadja: spare death row Catholics in the name of peace
Priest ready to die to save condemned Catholics
Poso: Synod of Christian Church implicated in 2000 inter-faith clashes
Catholics get second chance to appeal death sentence


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