0947 L Wed 5 Dec 2001
The first reading today is Isaiah 25:6-10 about a banquet
for all peoples.
In December 1993 I attended a tribal banquet on the Indonesian
island of Sulawesi. I still have a vivid memory of seeing a buffalo
being killed there.
Its not a place I would recommend for a holiday today. The
Age newspaper has a report on page 12 by Lindsay Murdoch:
Indonesia sends troops to Sulawesi
Christian leaders say Muslim fighters are
massing for attacks.
More than 2500 extra Indonesian troops and police are being
sent to central Sulawesi amid reports that Muslim fighters are
preparing to attack Christian villages in a remote area where
up to 150 people have been killed in sectarian clashes in the
past two months. ...
Catholic priest Jimmy Tumbelaka said Muslim fighters had destroyed
five villages between Poso and Tentena and now encircled Tentena,
where villagers were preparing to fight.
"The Muslims have threatened to celebrate Idul Fitri
(the end of the Muslim fasting month) in Christian Tentena while
Christians have uttered a similar threat to celebrate Christmas
in predominantly Muslim Poso," Father Jimmy said.
"And a civil war will likely erupt in Tentena if the
Muslim militants attack because local people are ready with their
traditional weapons to defend the town."
Church officials said that only about 25 security personnel
were stationed in Tentena and the town would easily be captured
unless reinforcements arrived. ...
Here is part of the description of Tentena in the January
2000 edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Indonesia:
Tentena, at the northern end of the lake, is larger and prettier
than Pendolo, and is surrounded by clover-covered hills (from
June to November the cloves are particularly aromatic). Tentena
has excellent accomodation and a varied cuisine, but lacks Pendolo's
Its entry on Poso includes:
Poso is the main town, port and terminal for road transport
on the northern coast of central Sulawesi. For most travellers,
it's a transit point and somewhere to change money. Many folk
head for the beaches ... or to to Ampana (for the boat to the
Togean islands), but Poso is a pleasent place to break up a journey.
The Australian also has a report, on page 11, by Don
Foreign fighters wage holy war in Sulawesi
Afghan, Pakistani and Arab jihad fighters have been identified
among the ranks of Muslim militants waging a struggle with Christians
in Indonesia's island of Sulawesi, according to a local polic
The Laskar Jihad sustained a fierce campaign in the Maluku
islands that has left several thousand dead and generated, by
official government estimates, 350,000 internal refugees. Under
strong criticism over the slow and inadequate response of Indonesian
security forces to the situation in Poso, chief Security and
Political Affairs Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono left to inspect
the trouble yesterday. ...
Hopefully the situation will improve.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 5 December 2001.