Magazine article The Christian Century

Rights Group Urges Restraint in Indonesia

Magazine article The Christian Century

Rights Group Urges Restraint in Indonesia

Article excerpt

Human Bights Watch, the international rights monitoring group, has called on the Indonesian government to curb its use of security forces in its effort to end violent clashes between Muslims and Christians on Ambon Island. The clashes, which broke out in January, have claimed as many as 200 lives and resulted in as many as 30,000 people being displaced, according to the New York--based human rights agency.

The Indonesian government sent the security forces to Ambon in mid-February, but the rights group said the forces have been using "extreme" measures in an effort to curb the rioting. "When they finally did intervene, they shot lead bullets rather than attempting to use any methods of non-lethal crowd control," the 30-page report said.

The report did not assign blame to either the Christian or Muslim side in provoking the clashes, which it said began January 19 with a fight between a Muslim youth and a Christian public-transport driver. "The Indonesian press, senior Indonesian officials and opposition leaders, and many Jakarta-based diplomats believe the violence was provoked as part of a nationwide strategy of rogue military officers . …

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