Saturday, September 23, 2006

Government cannot escape responsibility for riots

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A number of politicians hare Friday expressed regret that the government appeared to be at a loss about what to do in dealing with the riots that took place after the execution of Fabianus Tibo and his two associates earlier in the day. Jacobus Mayongpadang from the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDIP) faction in the House of Representatives (DPR) and Immanuel Blegur from the Golkar Party criticized the government for having called on the community and religious leaders to immediately act to calm down the people in connection with the execution as if the riots that had happened in Atambua and Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara Timur were not its responsibility. They made the statement in comment on the occupation of the prosecutor`s office and a break-in into a prison in Atambua by people sympathizing with Tibo and his associates. Their action at the jail enabled 200 prisoners to flee. The politicians deplored an Attorney General`s statement that his office was a mere tool in the execution process and calling on the community and religious leaders to give enlightenment to the people, especially in the birthplace of Tibo and his associates in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara. "That is not right. They must not turn things upside down. It is the government in the first place that must bear responsibility for the fallout. They must have already anticipated any eventuality. The government should not shift its responsibility to the people after the riots occurred," Jacobus told ANTARA News. Blegur said, "We need to discuss many things concerning the process that has led to the execution and why the government seemed to be upset over the riots that happened after the execution. "He said he hoped there would be a further fairer follow-up linked to the Tibo case to calm the people. DPR spokesman Agung Laksono meanwhile called on the people in Atambua especially to try to understand the case. "I also hope the police could immediately take security measures to maintain order," he said to newsmen.

Pak Agung, the people DO understand the case and the government's mishandling of the case from the beginning right up to the execution has led to the response we have seen in East Nusa Tenggara. If the case had been tried properly and ALL EVIDENCE, no matter how embarrassing to local police, local Poso prosecutors and local Central Sulawesi politicians, was admitted, no one was intimidated and threatened with death by violent mobs of radical Muslims during trial as police smiled and looked on, and the verdict was still guilty, then maybe they could accept it without a violent reaction. Until Indonesia learns to conduct trials based on all evidence presented, does not allow intimidation by outside forces, bribery and corruption of officials and judges, and allows due process to take place in a fair system for all, regardless of religion or ethnicity, then the people of this country will never know what true justice is. We look at the case of three Christian Sunday school teachers being jailed 3 years for religious conversion when the children had the parent's permission to be in the program and had not converted. What kind of justice is that? Violent pressure from radical Islamists on the lawyers, judges, the defendants and the police at the courthouse forced an illogical and unjust verdict. The Indonesian government cannot permit outside influence of this nature and it is these people terrorizing trials that need to be jailed and made examples of. This is why Christians are angry. It appears that Muslims are able to influence the outcome of trials of Christians and that there is no justice for Christians. The longer it is left undealt with by the government, the closer we will come to renewed conflicts. The question is, is THIS what the government wants?

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