Demonstrators call for execution of Indonesian Catholics

A crowd of 4000 people paralysed the city of Poso in Sulawesi, Indonesia, yesterday in a demonstration demanding that the government carry out the death sentences pending against three Catholics for their involvement in Muslim-Christian riots in 2000.

Under the banner "Poso's Muslim Friendship and Struggle," the demonstrators demanded the execution of Fabianus Tibo, Domingus da Silva and Marinus Riwu, AsiaNews reports.

The date of the execution has been postponed several times, partly as a result of international pressures including that of the Holy See.

In a statement, the rally's organisers demanded the government not hesitate to carry out the sentence "as required by law". But at present, no new execution date has been announced.

Police ensured tight security as the rally made its way from Poso's grand mosque filing by the Regency building and Prosecutor's office. No clash was reported, but schools, streets and public transit were forced to shut down.

Meanwhile a new police chief has been installed in central Sulawesi, Asia News says. Badrootin Haiti replaces Brigadier General Oegroseno who had backed the stay of execution for the three Catholics.

In a related story, UCAN also reports that Government, Catholic and Muslim leaders have urged people on Flores, 400 km south of Sulawesi, to maintain harmony following rumours that Catholics would kill people in retaliation should three Catholics implicated in communal riots on another island be executed.

Church groups supporting the men claim they are innocent and were framed by others who instigated the violence.

They say Christian-Muslim clashes 1998-2001 killed 2,000 people in Central Sulawesi, and that although Muslims also were involved in the violence, no Muslims have been brought before a court of law for this.

Meanwhile, seminarians of the major seminary in Ledarero, near Maumere, have begun guarding mosques and Muslim residential areas.

About 1,000-armed troops are on patrol in and around Maumere, according to Holy Spirit Servants Sister Eustochia Monika Nata, head of her congregation's commission for justice, peace and the environment.

Bishop Vincentius Sensi of Maumere also sent a 19 August letter to his diocese saying that even were the three men to be executed, Catholics must respect others' right to life. He appealed to Catholics to keep praying to God, but also demanded that the Indonesian government release the three Catholics sentenced to death.

However, in what may be a sign of hope, AsiaNews also reports that the men are not being held in solitary confinement as Indonesian law stipulates for convicts facing execution.

The decision has rekindled hopes for the accused but the Attorney General, Abdul Rahman Saleh, has insisted a new date would soon be set for their execution.

Saleh added: "As far as I know, the police and local authorities in Palu will certainly fix the date for the execution and carry it out. The prosecutor would be mistaken if he did not carry out the sentence handed down by the court."

Muslims paralyse Poso demanding execution of Tibo and fellow prisoners (Asia News, 5/9/06)
People Asked To Maintain Harmony Amid Rumors Of Retaliation If Condemned Catholics Are Executed (UCA News, 1/9/06)
General Oegroseno backed a stay of execution for the three Catholics (Asia News, 31/8/06)
No more solitary confinement for three Catholics on death row (Asia News, 30/8/06)

Fate of Bali bombers raises hope for three condemned Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 22/8/06)
Miracle last hour stay of execution for death row Indonesians (CathNews, 14/8/06)
Thousands rally to save death row Catholics in Indonesia (CathNews, 11/8/06)
Indonesian Catholics to face firing squad on Saturday (CathNews 10/8/06) a/A>
Indonesian death row Catholics lose court appeal (CathNews 16/5/06)
Further appeal opportunity for Indonesian death row Catholics (CathNews 19/4/06)
Activists maintain fight for death row Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 10/4/06)
Second clemency plea for death row Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 28/3/06)
Pope sends envoy to death row Indonesians (CathNews 22/3/06)
Indonesian bishop condemns Catholics' death sentence (CathNews 29/11/05)
Looming execution of three Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 17/11/05)
Indonesian bishop concerned about resurgence of violence in Poso (CathNews 16/8/02)

5 Sep 2006