Sunday, September 24, 2006

Indonesia defends Christian executions

NEW YORK - Indonesia's foreign minister said Saturday that the execution a day earlier of three Roman Catholic militants for bloody attacks on Muslims six years ago was a matter of justice not religion.
The comments by Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda came as thousands of security forces in parts of central and eastern Indonesia stood watch around churches and markets to guard against a repeat of the violence Friday, carried about by Christian mobs who torched cars and looted stores in anger over the executions.
"The case was a pure enforcement of law. It has nothing to do with the questions of tolerance between Islam and other religions," the minister told The Associated Press in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting. "All the legal remedies have been exhausted."

Excuse me, all legal remedies were not exhausted but the Indonesian government chose to ignore all evidence and pushed the executions through before Ramadan.

The Vatican expressed "great regret" over the executions, and called for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence among different religions in the country. The uproar occurred as many Muslim around the world protested recent comments about Islam made by Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict XVI, who has since expressed regret.

Regret that Muslims didn't read the whole text from the lecture and still fail to understand the context in which it was used and that their rage is totally uncalled for.

The government's decision to execute the three Christians raised questions about the role religion played in handing down punishment for the unrest in central Sulawesi province, which largely ended with the signing of a peace deal four years ago. Only a handful of Muslims were convicted, all to 15 years in jail or less, for their roles in the sectarian violence that killed at least 1,000 people from both sides in Sulawesi from 1998 to 2002.
Human rights workers say the trial of the three Christians was a sham. But Wirajuda said the cases were reviewed by local courts, provincial courts and the supreme court. The government, he said, must now meet with religious leaders to convince them that justice had been carried out without consideration of religion.

Sorry, that's just not going to happen. How can you convince us that it was not religiously motivated when evidence implicating Muslim government officials, military and politicians were responsible was not allowed because it would further complicate the situation and embarrass Muslims? And what about the radical Muslims who are allowed to intimidate judicial outcomes by threatening violence including death threats to defence lawyers, defendants and judges if the verdict is not up to their liking?

"We have a truly independent judiciary," Wirajuda said. "This is a new Indonesia."

Yes, it is a new Indonesia. An Indonesia where extremists are allowed to hijack the judicial procedure which further complicates a system already racked with corruption, collusion and bribery.

The three Christians were put to death as the government prepares for the executions of three Muslim militants convicted in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
In Indonesia, a curfew was imposed in Maumere, a town on Flores island, where the condemned men were born, after crowds Friday set fire to the local parliament and court buildings to protest the trio's deaths by firing squad.
The eastern regions saw most of Friday's violence, with Christian mobs looting Muslim-owned shops, throwing rocks, blockading roads and setting cars on fire. In one town, machete-wielding youths ran through the streets terrorizing residents.
Gangs also assaulted a jail in the West Timor town of Atambua, freeing some 200 inmates after terrified guards fled to the nearby jungle.
Soldiers and policemen were scouring the jungles Saturday for some 180 inmates still missing, said local police chief Lt. Col. Heb Behen, adding that reinforcements had been called in to protect residents.
The town of Palu, the provincial capital of Central Sulawesi and the scene of Friday's pre-dawn executions, was quiet on Saturday with hundreds of police patrolling the main roads.

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