INDONESIA. CHRISTIANS EXECUTED FOR RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE, VIOLENT PROTESTS ENSUE
|The three Christian militants
September 22, 2006: the execution of three Christians in Indonesia brought thousands of protesters to the streets in the hometown of one of the dead, where they freed prisoners and burned an official's house, a witness said.
The three Christian militants were executed by an Indonesian police firing squad early on September 22 amidst tight security in Palu, capital of Central Sulawesi province.
Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus Silva had been sentenced to death in 2001, after being found guilty of leading a mob in an attack that killed more than 200 people at an Islamic boarding school during Muslim-Christian clashes in the province.
The convicts' priest, Jimmy Tumbelaka, said they had been officially declared dead at 3 a.m. local time, although police officials said the actual execution was hours earlier.
"According to valid information I received they were shot in a sitting position with their hands tied. Two were blindfolded while Marianus Riwu refused to be blindfolded," Tumbelaka told Reuters.
The bodies of Tibo and Riwu were flown to their home town while Silva was buried in Palu.
In Silva's hometown of Atambua in West Timor, thousands of Christians protested in anger over the executions.
A local Red Cross official, Elli Mali, said the demonstrators broke into a jail and freed about 200 prisoners.
"The mob numbers in thousands. I ran into some of the prisoners and they said, 'I'm free!'", Mali told Reuters.
The protesters threw rocks and burned the local prosecutors' house, Indonesian media and police said.
But in the Poso area of Central Sulawesi, where many Christian-Muslim clashes have occurred in recent years, including the incident for which the men were prosecuted, hundreds of protesters rallied against the executions and burned tyres on the street, deputy police chief Minarta said.
Authorities turned down a request for the executed men's bodies to be laid out in the Santa Maria church in Palu, Tumbelaka said.
"We are disappointed they didn't get a proper religious service and customary rites," he said. (Sources: Reuters, 22/09/2006)