Posts made in April, 2018

The Central Sulawesi Conflict

Posted by on Apr 5, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Central Sulawesi Conflict

Nestled between staunchly Muslim South Sulawesi and predominantly Christian North Sulawesi, President Sukarno granted provincial status to Central Sulawesi in 1964. During the colonial era, the Netherlands Mission Society had established a headquarters in highland town of Tentena to convert the predominantly animist population around Lake Poso. By the outbreak of the Second World War, the Protestant community had grown to about 20 percent of the population – and continued at that level during the post-independence period. Christian villages around Tentena established militias during the 1950s to defend against the Kahar Muzakkar’s Darul Islam marauders. That tradition persisted. During the 1970s and 1980s, the government-sponsored transmigration program and the spontaneous migration by Buginese and Minahasans into the region aggravated social tensions, but was kept in check by the New Order regime. Economic competition, land disputes and political rivalries intensified during the 1990s. Like Maluku, the region was ripe for conflict when Soeharto resigned in May 1998. New districts (kabupaten) and subdistricts created through the regional autonomy laws segregated Central Sulawesi communities along ethnic and religious lines. For the first time a Muslim was elected Poso Bupati. He was outspokenly critical toward the Christian community, fueling local resentment. A drunken brawl between youths in Poso’s Protestant Lombogia neighborhood on Christmas Eve 1998 triggered the initial violence. The Ramadan fasting month had started several days earlier. A Christian youth stabbed a Buginese Muslim boy. By Sunday evening, December 27, truckloads of Tentena Protestants led by local legislator Herman Parimo had arrived in the city to reinforce the Christian community. Muslim and Buginese volunteers poured into the city from Parigi to the west. Armed with machetes and other sharp weapons, the rival communities engaged in a battle near the Poso police barracks on December 28. Riots raged for over a week while security forces watched from the sidelines. Dozens died, hundreds were injured and thousands left homeless. The fighting burned itself out by early-January. With the onset of torrential rain, most fighters went home. On January 2, Sulawesi Wirabuana Commander Major General Suaidi Marasabessy announced security forces had arrested eight perpetrators (all Protestants), including Herman Parimo. Christians were unhappy because Marasabessy and others depicted the fighting as one-sided, blaming the Protestant community while no Muslims were charged. [1] During February, South Sulawesi Governor Lieutenant General Zainal Palaguna declared, “What happened in Maluku can’t happen here.” [2] News from Maluku and the influx of displaced persons from that conflict increased tensions. The refugees were “vectors for infection,” carrying the viruses of fear, hatred and vengeance. Local elites on both sides financed and encouraged the militias. Violence resumed after a drunken brawl at the Poso bus terminal on April 17, forcing Protestant and Chinese residents to flee the city. Unable to stop rioters from burning churches and Christian homes, Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) reinforcements sent from Palu opened fire and killed three Muslims. When Central Sulawesi Governor Lieutenant General H.B. Paliudju arrived the next day, Muslim leaders demanded he withdraw Brimob and fire Poso Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Deddy Woeryantono. The governor agreed to remove Brimob, but the arson spree resumed as soon as...

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