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Christian Red Force

In Central Sulawesi and its town of Poso Christian are the minority religious community, as they are elsewhere in Indonesia. Traditionally, the majority Muslim population has co-existed harmoniously with the minority Christians, most of whom live in the north and in the Poso area. In 1998, tensions between the two religious groups increased when Poso's Muslim governor proposed a Muslim successor instead of the customary alternate Christian. An increase in the Muslim population in Sulawesi due to migrantion of Muslims from Java has contributed to inter-religious tensions between Christians and Muslims, an influx which has reduced the numbers and influence of the Christian population.

A brawl triggered Muslim attacks on Christian homes and churches, and sporadic violence continued until it escalated in April 2000 when hundreds of Christian homes were destroyed and many people killed. In late May 2000, Christian retaliated by attacking Muslim villages, terrorizing and killing occupants.

A significant increase of killings occurred in November and December of 2000, apparently spurred by Laskar Jihad militants. Tens of thousands of Christians fled their homes as villages were attacked. On December 1 and 2, hundreds of Laskar Jihad attacked Christian forces in the villages of Sepe and Batugincu, south of Poso city. Three soldiers and three civilians were shot. A police officer shot and killed a rioter and wounded four on December 3, after a Muslim attacked a church in Poso city.

In 2001, after Java-based Laskar Jihad began arriving on the island and violence escalated, a paramilitary group called the Red Force emerged to retaliate on behalf of the Christians. By year's end, the army was able to quell the violence, and a tenuous peace agreement was negotiated. Three leaders of the Christian Red Force, Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus Silva were convicted of leading rioters in mass killings, and for leading an attack in 2000 on an Islamic boarding school in Sulawesi, in which some 200 people were killed, and given the death penalty. Their appeal against their sentences were sent to the Supreme Court of Indonesia, but failed.

In September 27th, 2006 the three Christian Red Force leaders were executed at 1:45am in Palu, central Sulawesi. Violence erupted across several parts of eastern Indonesia as a result because their trial and death sentence were viewed as unfair and pressured by Muslim majority mobs who threatened judges and prosecutors with death. A prison in Atambua, in West Timor, the home of one of the militants, was stormed and 200 men escaped and attacked the prosecutors' office. In the region of Flores, where the other two were born, police fired warning shots to save a parliament building from a mob. Protesters blocked roads and torched buildings elsewhere. In the Poso district of Sulawesi, where the conflict took place in 2000 to 2001, gangs burnt cars and police posts. These incidents escalated into an open clash between Muslim militants and police forces in October of 2006.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:40:34 ZULU