Relaymedia

WCC President Calls for Action in Indonesia

As we make this plea to you, we uphold Muslims and Christians in our intercessions and pray for peace and reconciliation in the Malukus.
( [email protected] ) May 07, 2004 03:29 PM EDT

In lieu of the rising violence between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia, the World Council of Churches’ general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, released a letter to the president, Megawati Soekarnoputri, asking him to promote inter-religious dialogues between the two communities.

“The member churches of the World Council of Churches have all along striven for peace and reconciliation between the two communities and in this connection have consistently promoted inter-religious dialogue, through the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, particularly in the Malukus region. It is important that these efforts do not suffer a set-back because of actions of a few extremists on both sides of the religious divide,” wrote Kobia on the May 5th letter.

The violence in the region, which broke out on April 25, reportedly claimed the lives of over 200 Indonesians. Kobia said he supported a similar call from the local Protestant and Roman Catholic Church representatives in the face of "the outbreak of violence,” and said the two communities must continue the effort for peaceful dialogue.

Kobia specifically noted that some 40 people reportedly died from a deadly arson attack at the Indonesian Christian University in Malukus.

"Much of the damage and spread of violence could have been avoided if the Indonesian security forces… had taken timely action," Kobia said.

The following is the full text of the letter as released by WCC on May 7:

WCC letter to Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri

5 May 2004

The World Council of Churches has received with dismay and concern reports of the outbreak of violence and conflict between Muslims and Christians in the Malukus region since 25 April. As a result of the ongoing violence over 33 people have lost their lives and 238 people have been injured.

These events have come after a period of relative calm and intercommunal harmony between Muslims and Christians in the region. The member churches of the World Council of Churches have all along striven for peace and reconciliation between the two communities and in this connection have consistently promoted inter-religious dialogue, through the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, particularly in the Malukus region. It is important that these efforts do not suffer a set-back because of actions of a few extremists on both sides of the religious divide.

We are particularly concerned by the attacks and acts of arson at the Indonesian Christian University in the Malukus that have resulted in the complete destruction of 16 lecture rooms that catered to the faculties of Theology, Civil Engineering, Economics as well as Social and Political Sciences. Priceless collections of books accumulated over many years, including the Maluccana and Idonesiana collections, have been completely gutted as a result of the attack on the University library.

According to the reports received by us, much of the damage and spread of violence could have been avoided if the Indonesian Security Forces were vigilant and had taken timely action against the miscreants. Your Excellency will appreciate that it is the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia to maintain law and order and to provide security to the people in the country, particularly in a region like the Malukus where inter-religious tensions run high.

The World Council of Churches supports the call of the Moderator of the Protestant Church in the Malukus, Rev. Dr. I.W.J. Hendriks and Msgr P.C. Mandagi MSC, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ambonia, that the Indonesian Government take immediate steps to put an end to the violence in the Malukus. The Government should also encourage and support peace-building efforts of churches and civil society groups that are endeavouring to promote inter-religious harmony in the region.

As we make this plea to you, we uphold Muslims and Christians in our intercessions and pray for peace and reconciliation in the Malukus.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia

General Secretary