This chronology illustrates the nature of the conflict. Not every incident is included and, in many cases, there are several versions of the same events.
Both sides bore responsibility and both experienced casualties as the violence spread and intensified. With each phase, the sophistication of weapons increased, from machetes to projectiles to homemade guns and, according to some eyewitnesses, automatic weapons. The vast majority of weapons, and virtually all of those turned in, were machetes, other blades, and senjata rakitan, homemade weapons from small workshops. Workshops in the town of Ampana had a reputation for copying pistols and even M16s. Factory-made bullets, some of them reportedly with TNI markings, were selling at one point for Rp. 5000 (US$0.55) each.40
The first phase was short and limited to several neighborhoods in Poso town, although truckloads of allies from other areas joined the fray. Proponents of the provocateur theory pointed out that the violence began just after the bupati's December 13, 1998, announcement that he would not seek re-election, opening the field to a range of ambitious candidates. As noted above, this phase also coincided with unexplained outbreaks of violence throughout Indonesia.
On Christmas Eve, 1998, which fell during Ramadan that year, a young resident of the Protestant neighborhood of Lombogia named Roy Runtu Bisalembah stabbed Ahmad Ridwan, a Muslim from the Kayamanya neighborhood. According to Christian accounts Ridwan then fled into a mosque. Muslim versions described it as an attack on a Muslim asleep in the mosque courtyard, and in some versions the victim was at prayer or was even an Imam. Religious leaders from both groups blamed alcohol and agreed to ban it during Ramadan. Police began seizing liquor. Muslims made their own raids, and when Protestant youths defended the mostly Christian Chinese shops, numerous fights broke out.
Rumors spread of burnt churches. On December 27 machete-armed Protestants from Tentena arrived, reportedly led by a member of the district assembly, Herman Parimo. Parimo had been involved in a militia from the 1950s called the Central Sulawesi Youth Movement (Gerakan Pemuda Sulawesi Tengah, GPST), and his fighters adopted that name. At least nine trucks of Muslims arrived from the urban centers of Palu, Parigi, and Ampana. One Muslim account estimates 1,000 Muslims arrived in twenty-seven trucks, pickups, and motorboats.41 The fighting escalated, and police did little, but claimed to have sealed the roads into Poso. After a week, the fighting tapered off amidst heavy rains, though displaced persons remained in Tentena, Parigi, and Ampana.
Banners, anonymous letters, and graffiti attacking Protestant government officials proliferated, notably targeting Parimo and his alleged backer, a bupati hopeful named Yahya Patiro.42 (For an example see attachment.)
The Regional Military Commander blamed the riots on eight Protestant troublemakers the authorities had in custody. Members of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas-HAM) said an inquiry showed the conflict was not due to religious or ethnic tensions. They blamed the violence on "miscommunication" and claimed that no local officials were involved. The provincial government formed a "Clarification Team" that interviewed forty witnesses and also concluded that no officials had acted as provocateurs.43
Parimo, the alleged leader of the Protestant convoy from Tentena, was arrested.44 Rumors persisted that top officials in Poso were behind the violence, such as the Muslim bupati Arif Patanga, or his Protestant deputy Yahya Patiro. Patiro was given a post in the provincial government in Palu, angering Muslims. In February 1999 police charged the bupati's younger brother Agfar Patanga with incitement to violence. Then, in June 1999, the governor removed the bupati. A forensics lab in South Sulawesi later concluded that Agfar Patanga was the author of an anonymous letter accusing Protestant officials of starting the violence.
Following new laws on decentralization, the position of bupati was to be filled not by appointment but by election in the district assembly. The elimination of candidates, including Patiro, a Protestant, and Damsyik Ladjalani of the Muslim PPP party, left three contenders: a Muslim member of the former ruling Golkar Party named Muin Pusadan; a Muslim named Ismail Kasim; and a Protestant politician named Eddy Bungkundapu.
In June 1999 the first democratic national elections in over four decades took place, electing assembly members at the central, provincial, and district levels. While opposition parties did well on Java, the ruling Golkar party rode its patronage network to electoral victories in Sulawesi, as in many of the outer islands. Their success ensured that Golkar candidate Muin Pusadan was selected as bupati in a close vote in October 1999, disappointing a wide range of Muslim and Protestant backers of other candidates.45
After more than a year of relative calm, political and legal events in April 2000 raised tensions. The second phase continued along the same battle lines as the first phase, with Protestant neighborhoods suffering the brunt of the damage. The trial of the former bupati's brother Agfar Patanga had begun. In another corruption trial, a local businessman named Aliansa Tompo was charged with misappropriating funds from a rural credit program (Kredit Usaha Tani, KUT). There were rumors that some of this money was used to hire mobs to attack the courthouse and burn documents, forcing suspension of both cases. Patanga's trial later reconvened in Palu.46
More significantly, the second highest position in the district, district secretary (sekretaris wilayah or sekwilda) was under consideration, and competition was intense. A newspaper printed statements on April 15 by Chaelani Umar, a member of the provincial assembly from the Unity Party (Partai Persatuan), predicting more violence if the former bupati hopeful named Ladjalani was not chosen.
The next day, a Muslim youth claimed to have been attacked by Protestants, and showed cuts on his arm as proof. Muslims retaliated, and a fight between youths from the Protestant neighborhood of Lombogia and Muslims from the neighborhoods of Kayamanya and Sayo escalated into widespread violence. For several days mainly Protestant houses were burnt near the bus terminal and in Lombogia.
The Poso police chief called in Palu troops from the police paramilitary unit known as the Mobile Brigade (Brimob). On April 17, Brimob officers fired on the crowd, killing Mohammad Yusni (23) and Yanto (13) and injuring eight other Muslims, including a man named Rozal Machmud who reportedly died later of his injuries. After burial of the victims that same afternoon, angry Muslims attacked Lombogia and burnt houses, churches, and schools.47
The next day Governor Paliudju visited the area and was met by a group of Muslims led by businessman and fraud suspect Aliansa Tompo. They demanded that Ladjalani receive the position of sekwilda, that the case against Agfar Patanga be dropped, that the police chief be fired, and that Brimob be sent back to Palu.48 The demands mirrored the underlying themes of the conflict: political competition, a politicized judiciary, and dissatisfaction with law enforcement.
Brimob was sent home, but the house burnings continued after an unidentified body was found next to a type of hat worn by Muslims. Muslims from town and the surrounding areas burned houses, churches, and the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), leaving Lombogia and Kasiguncu in ruins. So-called sweepings-a term for roadblocks and inspections by either security forces or, as in this case, civilians-began in Muslim neighborhoods. Several Protestants were reportedly pulled from cars and killed.
The regional military command in Makassar, South Sulawesi, eventually sent 600 soldiers and the fighting subsided. The Governor called on Protestants, many of whom had fled to Tentena or the hills above Poso, not to retaliate but instead to leave it to God. The police declared the second phase over on May 3.49
During the second phase the two sides began to use colored headbands and armbands to distinguish themselves. The Christians fighters became known as the red soldiers or red group, and the Muslims as white soldiers or white group. This report adopts the use of colors to describe these armed civilian groups. Though the importance of religion should not be overlooked, the two groups also organized along social, ethnic, and economic lines, and thus the term Protestant or Muslim fighters risks oversimplifying the conflict.
Just three weeks later the next phase began, dominated by a wave of retaliatory attacks by the red fighters against Muslim communities. There were direct clashes with white fighters, but also the kidnapping and killing of noncombatants. Human Rights Watch interviews confirm that migrants from South Sulawesi and Gorontalo were singled out, but that other ethnic groups suffered as well.
In early May, there had been rumors that many young Protestants who were displaced had fled to a red group training camp in Kelei. Red attack teams operating in this phase were called the "red bats" and "black bats."50 Black-clad and masked "ninjas" were said to be seeking out Muslims in Kayamanya thought to be responsible for earlier attacks.51 The ninjas were rumored to be led by Fabianus Tibo, a Catholic plantation worker from the island of Flores who had served time for killing a man years earlier. A Protestant named A. L. Lateka was described variously by the press and the police as the brains, the financial backer, or the "intellectual actor" behind the violence.
Early on the morning of May 23, a group of ninjas killed a policeman, Sergeant-Major Kamaruddin Ali (47), and two Muslim civilians, Abdul Syukur (40) and Baba (60). They reportedly then hid in a Catholic Church in the neighborhood of Moengko. The group, including Tibo, began negotiating with the police to surrender. A Muslim mob formed, and, instead of surrendering, Tibo and many others fled into the hills behind the church compound. The church was burnt down at 10:00 a.m. and fighting broke out around town, most intensely in Sayo, where ten people were injured with arrows and stones. The governor again hinted at outside provocateurs, while the police announced that three suspected ninjas had been detained and taken to Palu after being beaten by the crowd. Two weeks later three alleged provocateurs, identified only as Yen (25), Raf (20), and Leo (21) were detained on charges of instigating the May 23 riots.52
On May 28, a widespread attack on Muslims took place in several villages in the district. In the most notorious incident, a group of Christians, said to include Tibo and his group, surrounded Sintuwu Lemba village, which is also known as Kilo Nine for its distance south from Poso town. The village is made up of successful Javanese cacao farmers whose previous resettlement in South Sulawesi had failed. The women and children were captured and some women were sexually assaulted. Some seventy men ran to the nearby Muslim school, Pesantren Wali Songo, where many were killed with guns and machetes, whether or not they surrendered. Thirty-nine bodies were later discovered in three mass graves, although Muslim sources estimated a total of 191 deaths in the attack. One resident who survived the attack told a journalist he had been captured again four days later and taken to the river to be executed, where once again he was one of few survivors.53
According to a report compiled by Muslim academics, on the morning of the attack the villagers sought refuge at the district military command in Kawua. They allege that the Lage subdistrict head and the subdistrict police chief forced them to return home, insisting the situation was safe. This would later become a source of anger in the Muslim community, who saw it as a clear sign of bias by security forces.
The attack on Kilo Nine was part of a wider attack on Muslim villages. A Muslim resident of nearby Tabalo village told Human Rights Watch:
Another resident of Tabalo, living in temporary shelter in the town of Poso, described the same attack to Human Rights Watch in greater detail:
They kept us there for two days and two nights. They had us walk towards Kasiguncu, guarding us all the way. The only army we saw was a Muslim soldier from the subdistrict military command, and he couldn't do anything because they took his weapon away. Then we spent two nights in Kasiguncu. They took us to the edge of the city and retreated.56
A similar attack around the same time took place on a village of transmigrants from Lombok and Java. The account showed similar methods, and underlines the targeting of certain ethnic groups:
Muslims claimed the violence was planned during a national Koran reading contest in Palu, when authorities would be distracted by the huge event and by the presence of the president and vice-president. But the event may also have contributed to the escalation. At about this time, a gathering of thousands of Muslims took place at the Palu headquarters of Al-Khaira'at, an important religious and educational institution in Eastern Indonesia. It had reportedly been announced at mosques that something important would be discussed, though it is not clear that top leadership was aware of these plans.
A source who attended the event remembered a speech by an Al-Khaira'at figure: "Muslims of Palu, at this time our brothers in Poso will be surrounded by the Christian kafirs. Let us together go and help them. If we die in war it is not in vain. We struggle in the path of Allah. Allah has promised heaven for those of his people who fight the kafirs."59 The eyewitness also reported seeing the national Golkar treasurer Fadel Muhammad taking charge of supplies for the gathering. (Muhammad was later a controversial selection as governor of the new province of Gorontalo to the north of Central Sulawesi. He has also been linked to a national financial scandal known as Buloggate II, in which Rp. 40 billion (US$4.4 million) was diverted from the state logistics agency to Golkar's 1999 election campaign.)
While fighters were being recruited, a member of Al-Khaira'at's board brought raw materials to a workshop and ordered weapons made. In one day the workshop produced 8000 arrows and almost ninety dum-dums, or homemade shotguns, which were picked up that evening.60 The witness saw machetes and small amounts of money distributed at the gathering, from which two trucks of Palu Muslims went to Poso. After one of the recruits was killed in the village of Tokorondo on May 29, enthusiasm fell, and there is less evidence that Palu Muslims directly participated in later stages of the conflict. At the same time, many Muslim leaders in the capital remained prominent in the public discussion and legal aspects of the conflict.
It is not clear to what extent Al-Khaira'at as an institution was involved. But clearly some of its leadership were involved in arming and recruiting fighters. One religious leader from Al-Khaira'at, Yahya Al-Amri, explained to Human Rights Watch, "At first religious institutions tried to reduce the conflict. But then it shifted to religion, and religious institutions joined in; they became involved in the conflict."61 Muslims also accused Central Sulawesi Christian Church leaders of becoming involved in training and recruiting fighters, although the church maintained that its newly created Crisis Center was only carrying out investigations, advocacy, and humanitarian efforts.
By late May the conflict returned from the nearby villages to the town of Poso. The governor named A. L. Lateka, the Protestant figure, as responsible for the latest wave of violence. On June 2, 2000, hundreds clashed in the Muslim neighborhood of Kayamanya, and Lateka was killed.
The Palu government at last asked Jakarta for help from the army, and the Regional Military Command sent 1,500 more soldiers, ten tanks, and a combat unit. On June 6, Christians battled with police east of Poso with heavy casualties. The police arrested nine people, identifying three as provocateurs, but bodies continued to turn up through July in the Poso River or ravines nearby. In mid-July, 124 Protestants were arrested southeast of Poso, in Kolonedale, for carrying weapons, mainly machetes. On July 25, Tibo was caught by the army near his home, at the house of the village head of Jamur in Morowali, and brought to Palu. Two other Catholics from Flores residing in Beteleme, Dominggus da Silva Soares and Don Marinus Riwu, were arrested by the police.62
Brimob troops from Java arrived and began an operation they called Sadar Maleo, while TNI troops from Makassar began their parallel Operation Cinta Damai (Peaceful Love). They posted soldiers in sensitive areas, made efforts to confiscate weapons, and built barracks for displaced persons. The high casualties of the third phase began to fall after July 2000. In August, the governors of Central, North, and South Sulawesi met in Tentena to sign a "peace accord," pledging aid to encourage the return of displaced persons. President Wahid and Poso leaders attended a traditional ceremony in which a water buffalo head was buried. The official peace effort adopted the Pamona phrase Sintuwu Maroso: "Strong when united."63 The top-down nature of the agreement later came under heavy criticism.
After the violence of the third phase died down in July 2000, intermittent conflict continued for another year before the next major outbreak. The continued failure of a series of military and police operations to prevent violence or hold perpetrators accountable opened the door to the arrival of the radical Muslim group Laskar Jihad. Their arrival, in turn, led to a new round of attacks that razed numerous villages before a joint declaration was agreed upon at the end of 2001.
A typical clash in the fourth phase began with a conflict between neighboring villages, such as over cacao harvests. Rumors of an attack circulated, and fighters from one or both sides gathered before launching a "pre-emptive" attack.
According to LPS-HAM, an NGO in Palu that has followed the conflict closely, there were 124 incidents in 2001, leaving 141 dead, ninety injured, and 2,438 houses burned. At least twenty-seven people were reported missing and 102 others were kidnapped or tortured in this period. The NGO described the violence in 2001 as revenge attacks, with both sides claiming they were attacked first.64
The first few months of 2001 were dominated by the trial in Palu of the three Catholic migrants from the island of Flores: Fabianus Tibo; Dominggus Soares da Silva; and Don Marinus Riwu. Tibo had served time for a 1990 murder, leading many to assume he was a preman, or hired thug, who had been paid to join in the violence. It is suspected that Tibo, although Catholic, was recruited by Protestants due to his reputation as a good fighter.
His defenders point out that the 1990 death resulted from Tibo's efforts to aid a Muslim in a fight against Balinese attackers. His family argued that he was a scapegoat, assumed to be a leader because at fifty-seven he was one of the oldest people present. Supporters pointed out all the reasons he could not have been the leader of the red troops: he was uneducated, a migrant, and a Catholic. His lawyer and family members claim he was only trying to protect the Catholic Church compound in Moengko the night of the ninja attack.
Tibo's trial in early 2001 was one of the few attempts to prosecute anyone for murder, rather than the occasional weapons charge. It was also an effort to assign responsibility to those said to have led the fighters. But rather than serving to reduce tensions through legal means, the trial exacerbated them due to violent protests outside the courthouse, questionable testimony inside, and frustration on both sides over the handling of sixteen alleged ringleaders named by Tibo. An important opportunity was lost when the courts failed to conduct the trial professionally and when the subsequent investigations were not transparent.
Throughout the trial there were violent protests outside the courthouse, mostly by Muslim displaced persons from Poso, frequently resulting in police firing warning shots. One member of the defense team quit after being injured by a rock outside the courthouse.65
Inside the courthouse the trial was filled with dramatic accusations and graphic testimony by the survivors of the Kilo Nine attack describing the killings and sexual assaults. The key witness was a Muslim given the pseudonym "Anton" who made some astounding claims. He asserted that he infiltrated a Christian training camp for a month, but could not identify any of the 700 trainees because masks were worn the entire time. He also claimed that 727 guns were delivered to Tentena by aircraft, a charge that Muslims would raise when the subject of sweeping for arms arose.
On April 5, 2001, all three defendants were convicted for their role in three separate incidents of premeditated murder. All three were sentenced to death.66 In a dramatic moment just prior to sentencing, Tibo named sixteen alleged ringleaders. They included influential Protestants, such as Yahya Patiro and Eddy Bungkundapu, and nine of them were civil servants or retired military.67 The Supreme Court later upheld the decision. Tibo's lawyer requested a review (peninjauan kembali) based on new evidence, which was rejected in May 2002.68 On September 30, 2002, a court in Central Sulawesi heard new testimony in a further defense effort to obtain judicial review. A policeman named Irwanto Hasan, dismissed from the force for his involvement in sectarian violence, testified, allegedly changing his account of Tibo's guilt. The Supreme Court will decide if a retrial based on new evidence is possible.69
In late June and July 2001 an upsurge in violence, which some consider the beginning of the fourth phase, made it clear that the conflict was far from over. The violence was significant for both sides. The massacre of fourteen Muslims at Buyung Katedo, many of them women and children, outraged Muslims and helped ensure a positive reception for Laskar Jihad soon after. The fact that the violence again coincided with the filling of a key district post reopened debate on the question of power sharing in local government. Both sides agreed the government was failing to address the conflict effectively.
In June, armed groups became more aggressive towards villages and farmers on the edges of town, leaving ten dead or missing and numerous houses in Poso and neighboring Morowali destroyed. On June 28 a group of unidentified armed men attacked a vehicle from South Sulawesi near Watuawu, south of Poso. The vehicle was later found burnt and the six passengers missing.70
Plans for a protest at Poso government offices by Christians from Tentena soon raised tensions further. According to police and army officials, Muslims from Ampana marched to Poso on June 30 after hearing a rumor that thousands of Tentena residents were coming to demonstrate. The Muslims were confronted in Malei, Lage subdistrict, where fighting left a man named Pakibu (60) dead, two injured, and thirty houses burnt. TNI and police sent two platoons to contain the violence and reported conditions calm by the next day, but mobs were said to be forming in nearby villages.71
Tentena leaders said they would send just thirty representatives to town on July 2. The delegation from Tentena was stopped on its way into Poso by Muslim residents of Sayo neighborhood, and forced to return home. The Central Sulawesi daily Mercusuar (which later changed it's name to Radar Sulteng) reported on the house burnings and the roadblock with the inflammatory headline "Phase IV of the Poso Conflict Breaks Out."72
The next day, July 3, the violence indeed intensified as red troops attacked Buyung Katedo, Sayo, and Toyado, while white troops burnt houses and churches in Poso Pesisir and Poso town.73 In one of the worst of these incidents, early on the morning of July 3 attackers killed at least thirteen Muslims in the hamlet of Buyung Katedo in Sepe village, all but two of them women and children. Buyung Katedo is particularly vulnerable to hit-and-run attacks from the mountains and had been attacked before.
Musa, the Imam of the local mosque, was said to have been burnt to death, while the rest were killed with machetes:
A headline announced "Buyung Katedo Massacre Begins Outbreak of Poso Phase IV." The same day, a red group entered Sayo and burnt temporary barracks and a Muslim prayer house. Police reported that the attack killed one civilian, and three policemen.74
Early on July 5 a firefight broke out in Toyado, Lage subdistrict. The military and police reported that hundreds of red attackers set fire to the barracks built for displaced Muslims. When security forces intervened they became targets themselves. After firing warning shots, they killed six of the red fighters.75
Security forces responded to the rise in fighting around the city's edges by sending more troops. Although past efforts had been ineffective, the new Regiment Commander in Palu said that after evaluating previous operations, "[t]here is no change, it's fixed. That is the [policy] implemented so far by the police, which is to appeal to the groups in the conflict to `cooling down' [sic] and look for a peaceful path. After that the forces will conduct sweepings." Asked how long the "appeal" would take, he replied "That's a police method. I'm not sure."76
The police were indeed using the same practices they had before. Under the latest phase of the police operation, Sadar Maleo IV, anyone who turned in weapons would not be charged, but if they were later found with arms they would be charged under a 1951 emergency law. The provincial police chief argued that the small outbreaks and revenge attacks at the edges of town were being adequately addressed by joint TNI-police posts.77
By July 7 officials said the region was quiet. After delaying his trip twice for security reasons, the governor went to Poso but was blocked from visiting the Protestant town of Tentena by Muslim mobs. One sign read, "Governor, the massacres are not in Tentena, but in Buyung Katedo." Kayamanya's leaders later explained that they had reports that Tentena was not safe.78
A few days later the regional military command sent yet another company to guard the trans-Sulawesi highway, bringing the total of outside TNI units to five: three from Makassar and two from Palu. The police had brought in six companies, mostly Brimob. The Regional Military Commander Ahmad Yahya said that in the last month security forces had confiscated one hundred weapons, mostly homemade or aging rifles, and arrested ten people on weapons possession. But he added that he regretted the government's failure to use the break in the violence to foster reconciliation.79
There was some ambivalence about the new troops. The head of Morowali district said village heads had agreed that screening new residents for provocateurs would be more effective than sending soldiers. In Tentena, residents rejected the placement of Brimob officers because they were angry over the July 5 shootout in Toyado that left six Protestants dead. Eventually they allowed two platoons to be installed.80
The renewed violence revived debate about the role of power sharing in the conflict, and specifically the selection of a new Muslim district secretary. The bupati had recently selected a Muslim named Awad Al-Amri as district secretary. A Christian politician, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chair Datlin Tamalagi, made the link between the selection and the violence, stating, "[t]he policy of the Poso district government has not satisfied people. That has very much caused new conflicts." Asked if he was referring to the recent appointment of Al-Amri, he replied, "Yes, go ahead and interpret it that way. What's clear is that power sharing is not happening there."81
This issue also revealed tensions between provincial and district leaders. The Palu newspaper Mercusuar claimed to have information from inside the governor's office that the governor had called Pusadan, the bupati of Poso, and told him to delay Al-Amri's appointment. Pusadan reportedly agreed, but then went ahead with the appointment. According to the source, the governor then told the bupati, "If anything happens you will have to be responsible; it's not my headache anymore." The governor soon after chastised the assistant bupati for staying in Palu, telling him to go to Poso and deal with problems there.82
The failure of the government to stop the violence had another effect. Incidents such as the killings at Buyung Katedo encouraged the intervention of Laskar Jihad in July 2001. These relatively well-armed, well-trained fighters reinvigorated the conflict and the sporadic attacks increasingly took the form of organized assaults that leveled entire villages. Christians reported seeing automatic weapons used first in Uelene in July 2001, and later in Ranunoncu, Lembamawu, Sepe, and Silanca. Members of Laskar Jihad made several advance visits before officially joining the fray, meeting with provincial and district officials on arrival. As in their arrival in Maluku the year before, Laskar Jihad's arrival was no secret, and security forces did nothing to prevent it.
On July 25 unknown perpetrators bombed the police headquarters in Palu as hundreds of officers were preparing to handle a demonstration. Police officers opened fire, killing three civilians. According to the Palu organization LPS-HAM, the three victims had no link to the protest, let alone the bombing.83
The intense conflict of early July declined, but periodic attacks on villages and farmers working on their cacao or clove trees continued. A new round of police operations began in October, named Operation Sadar Maleo V. As in previous rounds, two weeks of voluntary weapons handovers were followed by "sweeping" under the 1951 Emergency Law.
By late October tensions between Laskar Jihad and security forces began to emerge, as illustrated in an incident in Mapane village. The incident was important in that it was one of the few instances where an armed group was detained and charged for carrying weapons. The previous incident of note had been the arrest of 124 Protestants in July 2000. While the interception of fighters heading for a conflict area was long overdue, it was accompanied by mistreatment and an alleged summary execution, which exacerbated tensions and mistrust. Court testimony by detainees points to a police motive for the arrests and torture-retaliation for the killing of a police officer rather than concern for the rule of law. Indonesian police and military have a history of committing human rights violations in retaliation for any injuries sustained during operations.
Laskar Jihad published an account of the incident, which also illustrates how the different Muslim groups coordinated their attacks. In this version, on October 18, Muslims from Tabalo were chased from their cacao groves near the border with Christian Betalemba, while security officers did nothing. That evening the Muslims burnt a car carrying goods to Betalemba, chasing off the driver and the police officers guarding it.
The next day Laskar Jihad and Tabalo Muslims prepared for a rumored attack. On October 20 the subdistrict police and military pulled out of Betalemba, allegedly due to a hostile crowd. Tabalo residents reported seeing Christians cutting down their trees, and decided to attack first. There were three Muslim groups preparing for attack: local residents, Laskar Jihad, and "supplemental troops" (laskar bantuan) from other areas such as Poso town.
According to Laskar Jihad, more security forces arrived, but the angry fighters "couldn't be restrained" by Ustadz (teacher) Umar Jawas of Laskar Jihad. That evening the Muslim laskar bantuan forces set out, and the first shots were fired. They killed a Muslim Brimob officer named Ardiansyah, and captured two others, who were later released.
By 11:00 p.m. most laskar bantuan had gone home to Poso town, but some were caught in a sweeping by security forces at Ratulene-Kasiguncu. With 150-200 fighters left, Tabalo Muslims asked Poso Muslims to send help. It was these reinforcements who later accused security forces of arbitrary detention, torture, and summary execution.
A witness named Abu Halifah Romi later testified that he and a friend stopped their motorcycle at the Brimob post in Mapane to report. Two minutes later a truck full of young men coming from Poso stopped at the post and the Brimob officers fired their guns in the air and ordered all passengers to get down. According to Halifah, everyone was forced to lie facedown on the ground, after which they were hit with rifles, kicked, and stripped of their clothes. Halifah told the court that the Brimob officers accused them of killing a fellow policeman.84
The detainees were allegedly tortured from 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Two detainees, Widyanto Heri Kisnanto (22) and Tegu Widyanto (33) later testified that they were tortured until Heri's head bled, requiring stitches and leaving his vision impaired. They testified that they were forced to strip and lie on the ground, and were hit with rifle butts. Widyanto also said the police accused them of killing Ardiansyah.85
According to Laskar Jihad and later accounts of the court testimony, the detainees were told to run home. Afraid they would be shot, no one ran except for a youth named Ahmad Sutomo who was then killed in a volley of shots. The forty-three detainees were then brought to Palu where they were again accused of carrying weapons and of killing Ardiansyah. Police soon released fourteen suspects, including three minors.86
The court ordered all but two of the detainees released immediately and awarded them Rp. 200,000 (US$22.00) each. Two were not released because their parents had received the necessary documentation from the police.89 These two, Syamsudin and Sutamin, were released December 19, 2001, when their detention period was up. Charges were not dropped, and the men were told to stay in Poso while the investigation continued.90
A lawyer for the detainees said at the time of the hearing that the police chief told him ten police officers were being questioned for their role in the incident.91 The case against members of the Brimob unit reopened at Poso District Court on July 25, 2002, with witness testimony.
Christians interviewed by Human Rights Watch often described the release of suspects as linked to the end of Ramadan, and questioned the lack of follow-up. Thus, in one of the few cases of arrests of fighters on their way to join a battle, the government forces appeared to have been motivated by revenge. They tortured the detainees and allegedly carried out a summary execution. This absolute disregard for the rule of law left both sides feeling that they had been treated unfairly by the justice system.92
Soon after the Mapane incident, one of the first in a series of village razings took place at Pinedapa. On October 29, according to Laskar Jihad's own version of events, word arrived that Christians from Pinedapa, in Poso Pesisir subdistrict, were harassing passing Muslims as they drove through the district. The village was also accused of refusing to let Muslim displaced persons return from Parigi to harvest their cacao. Muslims from nearby villages joined the attack, and Pinedapa was razed to the ground that night.93
In early November, there were new outbreaks at the city's edge. Fighting in Sayo and Kayamanya neighborhoods left some buildings burnt. One person died and four people were injured in a clash in the Gebangrejo neighborhood.94 Fighting at Jembatan (Bridge) II on November 11 caused several casualties, including a retired soldier. Police and TNI sent personnel and both sides reportedly fled, although a participant told Human Rights Watch that the battle lasted five hours before troops arrived. On November 12 a clash at the border of Tanah Runtu and Lembomawu villages involving hundreds of fighters lasted all morning, again ending when security forces arrived and pushed the white side back.95
After several weeks of skirmishes, local officials claimed calm had returned by November 14, the eve of Ramadan. The quiet proved to be the calm before the storm. Over the course of several days in late November and early December, eight villages in Poso Pesisir and Lage subdistricts were largely burnt to the ground: Betalemba, Patiwunga, Deuwa, Sanginora, Tangkura, Padalembara, Silanca, and Sepe. Press reports put the week's violence at between nine and fifteen dead, and thousands fled to the mountain towns of Napu and Tentena.96 It was a scale of violence that had not been seen since the July 2000 attacks of the third phase, but this time Christian villages and neighborhoods bore the brunt of the attack. The scale of the violence, and rumors of an attack on Tentena itself, drew unprecedented attention from Jakarta and the international community.
As in October, Laskar Jihad claimed the cause of the conflict was the harassment of Tabalo residents working in their cacao groves. According to Laskar Jihad's own account, on November 27 the attack began at 6:00 a.m. after the red group began massing in Betalemba and firing shots towards Tabalo. At 11:00 a.m. the Muslims decided to infiltrate the Protestant area and were met with gunfire. Security forces at their post in Betalemba also shot at Muslims and were attacked themselves. Muslim fighter Abdullah alias Muhammad Sanusi (33) died and another named Sa'ad was injured. At 2:00 p.m. Muslim fighters arrived from Poso town and the coastal subdistrict of Poso Pesisir. A Tabalo resident named Yudi (15) died, but the Betalemba Christians were pushed back to Tangkura. Christian sources reported one Christian named Kede (30) killed in Betalemba.
At 4:00 p.m., hours after the battle began, two army units from Infantry Battalion 711 arrived in Betalemba. Muslim women and children had built barricades to stop army trucks from traveling from Mapane to the Ratulene-Tabalo intersection. Laskar Jihad reported that the soldiers negotiated with one of their leaders, the same Ustadz (teacher) Umar Jawas who had also presided over the October battle, to extract their colleagues in Betalemba. The soldiers reached the Patiwunga-Tangkura border and the Muslim fighters retreated. By 5:30 p.m. security forces occupied Betalemba while the Muslims set up watch in Tabalo.97
According to the Laskar Jihad account, on November 28 the Muslim forces decided to advance to the elementary school in Patiwunga, again claiming to anticipate a Protestant attack. Christians descended from above and there was a short firefight. Some Muslims went back to Tabalo, while others advanced. At 10:00 a.m., the white troops reached the edge of Tangkora, which they began to burn. Shootouts killed two Protestants (which Christian accounts confirmed), but most residents had already fled. By 1:00 a.m. Tangkora was burnt down and the white troops pulled back to Tabalo.98
A resident of Tangkura described the attack:
On November 29, Sanginora and Dewua were overrun by 4:00 p.m., and Laskar Jihad reported killing four Christians. The Crisis Center of the Central Sulawesi Christian Church reported that the attackers had heavy equipment for use in the destruction and looting as well as oil tanks for the burning of villages.100
As many as 11,000 displaced persons fled into the hills to Napu. One displaced person from Betalemba who sought refuge recalled fleeing from village to village:
On November 28, the white group freely entered Patiwunga and Tangkura. The next day Dewua and Sanginora were burnt down, the houses, the church; even the statue of Jesus was decapitated.
A Central Sulawesi Christian Church account of the attacks also claims that the TNI and police officers pulled out of Betalemba, Patiwunga, Tabalo, and Tangkura in the midst of the attacks.102 The accounts of the two sides are very similar on this point, but not entirely consistent with regard to when and where the police were. There is a clear perception that they were withdrawn, and the results were unequivocal, namely that the sustained attacks caused the destruction of a string of villages over several days.
The attacks began Tuesday in Poso Pesisir and additional TNI troops reportedly did not arrive until Friday, after six villages had been leveled. However, the day after their arrival, December 1, the attacks shifted to Lage subdistrict, at the villages of Sepe and Silanca.
On December 1, Laskar Jihad reported destroying Batugencu, part of Sepe village, "in a sea of fire."103 According to a Christian version of events, at noon four trucks of newly arrived troops from South Sulawesi moved from Poso towards Tentena to guard villages. Laskar Jihad arrived and around 9:00 p.m. the attack began. Sepe villagers-previously attacked in December 2000 and October 2001-defended the road into the village and there was heavy fighting until two trucks of soldiers arrived at 10:30 p.m. and told the people to pull back and let them through. But the army then pulled back, allowing Laskar Jihad to move forward and take the village. In several hours all the houses were destroyed and the villagers' belongings ransacked.104 It is difficult to confirm this version, but there is evidence that the soldiers did engage the attackers in a fight, as three soldiers from Infantry Battalion 711 from Palu were reported in critical condition.105
The extensive November violence also affected the Hindu Balinese transmigrants who had largely been left alone. In some villages the only houses left standing were those of the Balinese. But by early December over 1,400 Balinese from several villages in Poso Pesisir had fled to other districts. The secretary of the local Hindu organization reported that it was too dangerous, there was no food coming in, and for the last week they had been unable to get to their fields. Nearly fifty Balinese houses and at least one temple were burnt in the attacks.106
The military response to the November attacks
Rumors of a full-scale attack on the Protestant center of Tentena were amplified by Christian solidarity organizations abroad. It is hard to determine how real the threat was, but white troops were clearly moving village by village up the road. Earlier, Laskar Jihad had threatened: "If the Christians indeed continue to try to perpetuate this conflict, then as newcomers in Poso, Laskar Jihad won't be satisfied until we have seen Lake Poso. The umat [Muslim community] will struggle until the last drop of blood is spilt."107 A battle for Tentena would have had enormous casualties, and it is possible that the arrival of new troops and attention from Jakarta averted it.
The international war on terror raised the international profile of the conflict. Indonesia was criticized for allowing the chaotic conditions that the international community believed al-Qaeda was seeking. There were high-level meetings in Jakarta and official visits to the area. Additional police and TNI companies were sent to protect vulnerable areas, separate the two sides, conduct mobile patrols, and secure roads.108
Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a joint military-police Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan (Security Restoration Operation). The six-month operation was to include two months to stop the violence, plus four more months to restore peace, confiscate weapons, expel outsiders, and monitor conflict areas closely; carry out legal action; and conduct rehabilitation, reconstruction, and reconciliation. Yudhoyono noted that Indonesia faced negative international opinion due to the continuing conflict, but urged security forces not to let the fear of being accused of human rights violations keep soldiers from acting firmly.109
In the joint Security Restoration Operation, the police were nominally in charge. This contrasts with the situation in Maluku, where the joint operations of 2002 are led by the army in what some critics have called "martial law by stealth." However, even in Poso the actual authority of the police was limited, and there were indications that if the police could not handle the job of the integrated command, it would shift to the army.110
By December 3, army officials reported that order had been restored with help from the Jakarta troops, although there were no known arrests. The same day, Christian sources reported four bomb explosions in Poso town.111 The Security Restoration Operation was underway by mid-December, searching for weapons and identity cards. Although those without clear identification were supposedly to be questioned and sent home, there are no known cases of removals from the area.112
In addition to troops sent under the Security Restoration Operation, the government announced that elite troops from the rapid reaction strike force (Pasukan Pemukul Reaksi Cepat, PPRC), would be sent to the province for military exercises. Ryamidzar Ryacudu, chief of the Strategic Reserve (Kostrad) that makes up much of the PPRC, acknowledged that sweeping was the job of regular army and police, but added a warning: "Unless later there is a situation of urgency and the regional military command can't handle it, and the police can't handle it, then Kostrad will go in to secure things. Now control is still in the hands of the police, right?" Previous training exercises were held in Papua, and in 2002 more were planned for Maluku, indicating a pattern of holding training exercises in conflict areas.113
The Toyado Incident
In the aftermath of the November attacks and in the midst of a series of a high-profile visits, the military was accused of committing serious human rights violations, including "disappearances" and extra-judicial executions. Angry over the injuries sustained in the clash at Sepe on December 1, soldiers allegedly abducted seven Muslim men and youths from Toyado village in Tojo subdistrict, five of whom were later found dead. Together with the earlier Mapane case, which implicated the police paramilitary unit Brimob, the Toyado incident reflects a pattern of retaliation, rather than strict law enforcement, by security forces. The accusation that one victim was handed over to the Christian side to be killed greatly increased suspicions among Muslims that the security forces were not impartial. The seven abducted were identified as:
Some later reports of the investigation into the incident include an eighth victim named Riyadi or Aswat. When word of the abduction spread, including the allegation that the men had been taken to a house in Christian Tagolu, a mob formed at the Bonesompe military post to demand their release. The armed crowd was prevented from burning down a church near the command, leading to fighting between the crowd and security forces. A man named Syarifuddin was reported killed in the incident, while gunfire and explosions injured others. The district military commander denied knowing the whereabouts of the men and promised to quickly resolve what he described as a missing persons case.115
The case changed from missing persons to murder when the body of one of those missing, sixteen-year-old Syuaib Lamarati, was found with stab wounds in the river. Police said they had not ruled out soldiers as suspects. Soon after, soldiers found four more bodies in shallow graves near Tagolu.
A reporter accompanying the Jakarta delegation said Security Minister Yudhoyono refused to go look at the corpse of Lamarati, but promised, "We are attempting to bring those allegedly involved in violence to court."116 B. S. Marbun of the National Human Rights Commission, one of the Jakarta figures in Poso at the time, commented, "Members of the public said the military has done some torture. The military denied that. So, we still have to verify this." No follow-up from the commission has been made public.
An army official told the press that a joint team of military police and the Regional Military Command had interviewed sixty-five witnesses (most of them soldiers) and identified four suspects from Company B of District Military Command 711 in Kawua, saying more might be added on torture charges. He said they would face a military tribunal, but would not name the suspects.117 Reports of the investigation noted that fifty soldiers had been involved in the incident, including the platoon commander. There was little news of the case, until June 2002, when ten soldiers from Infantry Battalion 711, including two officers, were declared suspects. The Palu military police chief said all the materials, including Komnas-HAM recommendations, had been sent to the army's Auditor General for review. A trial was set to start later in 2002.118
Retaliation on civilian populations by security forces after casualties is common in Indonesia, particularly in heavy conflict areas such as Aceh. In Poso this pattern served to strengthen convictions that the army and Brimob were biased, which made efforts to uphold the law through weapons searches and roadblocks much more difficult. The slow pace and lack of public information about the outcome of military justice proceedings neither reassured the civilian population nor helped deter future abuses.
Official visits by top police officials, cabinet ministers, and members of the National Human Rights Commission, helped initiate plans for a new reconciliation meeting. Even Laskar Jihad, which normally ridiculed the reconciliation process, acknowledged that the effort would be more effective than previous ones, due to Jakarta's interest.119
Some observers worried the efforts would rely too heavily on a military approach. Muslim academic Sulaiman Mamar, who would soon lead the Muslim delegation to Malino, noted that the attention was good, but that the visits had fostered hatred, "because the various statements about efforts to resolve the conflict prioritize too much a security approach that is top-down and tends to be unfair." In a rare move, Christian organizations and parties called for the United Nations Security Council to intervene.120
But despite the challenges, a break in the fighting and a surge in attention from Jakarta led to a new dialogue in the hill town of Malino, South Sulawesi. This fifth attempt at a peace agreement was a new and more comprehensive approach to conflict resolution. Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Yusuf Kalla, a native of Sulawesi, headed the mediation team and helped ensure resources for rebuilding and other crucial follow-up activities. While the dialogue was underway, a comprehensive military presence manned checkpoints on major roads in the district.121
Past agreements in Poso and other conflict areas had primarily consisted of pro forma handshakes by a handful of religious or traditional leaders designated from above. These top-down agreements had increased mutual distrust when such pacts inevitably fell apart. The traditional ceremony of August 2000, attended by President Wahid, had been followed by further outbreaks, bolstering the hardliner view that reconciliation was only a tactic by the other side to gain an advantage.
In contrast, the talks on December 19-20, 2001 at Malino recognized the humanitarian, legal, and security dimensions of the conflict in the choice of attendees, the resources provided by Jakarta, and the formation of follow-up working groups. Hastily selected by leaders of each side with an eye towards geographic, ethnic, and professional diversity, the participants were more representative than earlier small teams appointed by authorities. Work plans addressed the various dimensions of the conflict, and included a timetable for action. The process still retained elements of the old centralized and military approach to ending conflict, and the more complex aspects, such as Laskar Jihad and justice issues, were not clearly resolved, but the new approach was a welcome change.
One Muslim participant said the participants at Malino were presented with three scenarios by officials from Jakarta: 1) continued conflict and more victims, and the imposition of civil emergency status; 2) designation as a military operations area (Daerah Operasi Militer, DOM) giving the military a much freer hand; or 3) peace. The Muslim participants urged that "peace" be replaced by "dialogue" so as not to get too far ahead of local population.122
After each group met separately to review the history of the conflict, a ten-point Malino Declaration agreed:
1. To cease all forms of conflict and dispute.
2. To obey efforts to enforce the law and support legal sanctions against lawbreakers.
3. To ask the state apparatus to act firmly and justly to maintain security.
4. In order to create a condition of peace, to reject the imposition of a state of emergency and any foreign party involvement.
5. To dismiss slander and dishonesty against all parties and enforce an attitude of mutual respect, and to forgive for the sake of peaceful coexistence.
6. Poso is an integral part of Indonesia. Therefore every citizen has the right to live, come and stay peacefully and respectfully of local customs.
7. All rights and belongings have to be returned to their lawful owners as they were before the conflict began.
8. To return all displaced people to their respective homes.
9. Together with the government, to carry out complete rehabilitation of the economic infrastructure.
10. To carry out respective religious laws according to a principle of mutual respect and to abide by all the agreed upon rules, in the form of laws, government regulations, or other regulations.
Attached to the declaration were two work plans: one for economic and social matters; one for security and law enforcement. The work plans cover six months and were to take place in seven subdistricts in Poso and Morowali:
December 21, 2001, until January 6, 2002: public appeals to turn in weapons, while publicizing the penalties for weapons possession, including life in prison and the death penalty.
January 7 to February 7: Amnesty for the voluntary surrender of weapons. Weapons are to be collected by the village head and turned over to the nearest security post.
February 7 to March 7: Return of displaced persons.
February 7 to July 7: Law enforcement (peneggakan hukum). Joint police and military troops carry out weapons collection, targeting those suspected of weapons possession and those who hide or assist perpetrators. The methodology is to be preventive and "repressive," using searches of vehicles, houses, and questioning witnesses and suspects. Existing unresolved cases are to be prioritized.
February 7 and March 7: Removal of outsiders. The first step is identification of outsiders (pendatang) with no fixed residence or who did not register with authorities within fourteen days of arrival under the criminal code.123 They will be told to register promptly and information will be given to local officials to assist in "voluntary returns." Returns are to be carried out through agreement with the local community, by enforcing the relevant provisions of the criminal code, or through local regulations.124
This provision, together with Point 6 of the Declaration on the right of all Indonesians to live peacefully and respectfully of local customs, gave wide latitude for newcomers to remain. While it does allow for the removal of those who do not follow regulations, or who do not choose to live peacefully and respectfully, there are no known cases of anyone being removed.
The period of January 7 - February 7, 2002, was scheduled for the voluntary surrender of arms to security forces under the Malino Declaration. Even before that date officials in Poso town and Lage subdistrict reported that hundreds of weapons had been turned over to police. By March officials estimated nearly 39,000 weapons had been turned in, nearly all of them homemade. Despite sightings of factory issue and even automatic weapons during the fighting, by March only one had been found, hidden under a bridge.125 Leaders on both sides supported the confiscation of arms in principal, but were concerned that procedures for searching houses be followed. Laskar Jihad circulated a guide to the rights of homeowners. On the Christian side there was some hesitation due to a prior experience of turning in weapons that were then used as evidence in the Tibo trial. Some residents expressed skepticism of official figures, noting that the estimates of weapons turned in by each side were suspiciously even.
As noted, the declaration was an improvement over previous efforts. But many of the elements were recycled tactics from earlier or ongoing military operations and had already been announced. The timetable was unrealistic and many dates, such as for the start of weapons searches, were later pushed back. Other difficult questions, such as the removal of Laskar Jihad and the handling of new and prior crimes, were left vague, and as a result suffered from weak implementation.
Both sides seemed critical of the process but tired of the conflict. Criticism of the process generally related to the composition of the teams, the continued top-down approach, or mistrust of the other side. A Christian invitee who declined to participate at Malino told Human Rights Watch that too many people from Palu rather than Poso had been involved. He was one of several who viewed the meeting as one of parties being called to account, rather than a dialogue for peace.126 Responding to the criticism that Malino was attended by too many Palu-based leaders, some participants stressed that they sought a lot of input from Poso residents, or even that people in the field were too hotheaded.127
Demonstrating the deep mistrust, Muslim hard-line politician Nawawi Sang Kilat said Muslims had few hopes for the agreement, while Laskar Jihad cited a litany of incidents that had occurred despite past reconciliation efforts. According to the group, one point rejected in Malino as too extreme was "if this accord is violated, then the Muslim community is ready for jihad (apabila pemufakatan ini dilanggar maka umat Islam siap jihad fi sabilillah")."128
A provision of the agreement was the formation of working groups (kelompok kerja or "pokja") and a socialization team.129 At the district level, nine working groups were formed with different areas of operation: Security, Law, Mental and Spiritual Rehabilitation, Social Rehabilitation, Economic Rehabilitation, Physical Rehabilitation, Return of Displaced Persons, Education, and Health. A separate Socialization and Reconciliation Team was made up of members from each side in each affected subdistrict.130
The membership and approach of these committees became a point of contention. Pastor Damanik, a top Protestant leader and signatory (and a target of Muslim anger due to suspicion of his involvement in the fighting), criticized the bupati's failure to include him on the socialization team. He also urged that socialization be carried out jointly, and even invited former opponent Sofyan Lembah, who had once put a price on Damanik's head, to Tentena. In Palu, prominent signatories from both sides, including S. Pelima, Sofyan Lembah, Nawawi Sang Kilat, Sulaiman Mamar, and Yus Mangun, warned the government of their dissatisfaction with the membership of the province-level working group, but denied looking for a piece of the rehabilitation projects.131
Due in part to such disagreements, the working groups were slow to get off the ground. A Tentena group called the Independent Committee to Monitor Implementation of the Malino Declaration conducted a small survey of displaced persons in late January 2002. They found that six weeks after the signing only 43 percent had heard of the working groups and only 15 percent could name any members. Only 6 percent said they had felt its effects.132 In early March, a member of the Poso working group, currently a displaced person in Tentena, told Human Rights Watch that to his knowledge the only activity so far had been the opening ceremony, to which he had not gone due to lack of bus fare.133
One of the most important aspects of the agreement was the provision of funds to support rebuilding. Previous reconciliation efforts had not adequately addressed the problem of destroyed housing and infrastructure, which kept many people from returning home and made acts of revenge more likely.
This time, however, the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Yusuf Kalla, who played a central role as Head of the Mediation Team at Malino, pledged substantial resources from Jakarta. The provincial government announced plans to rebuild 9,321 units of temporary housing and nearly 600 public facilities (including 120 houses of worship) by the end of fiscal year 2002, with 882 already underway in January 2002. The housing was to consist of corrugated zinc roofing with either plywood or plank walls built on the foundation of destroyed houses in order to allow people to return home quickly.134
Humanitarian aid in Indonesia is often criticized for being "projectized" (diproyekkan), or made into a money-making proposition for agencies, army units, or politicians. After Malino, the military was given an explicit role in housing rehabilitation, reportedly in lieu of the normal payment from provincial government to the army for deployment. Two sacks of rice were allocated per house to help feed those doing the construction, with the excess to be sold for other foodstuffs. There were the usual suspicions that funds or materials were being siphoned off, but some observers were optimistic that the plan would help keep extortion down and give TNI a stake in a peace-time economy.
Lack of common ground led to the vague language in the declaration, affirming the right of anyone to remain in the area "peacefully and respectfully". Some process of removal was to take place between February 7 and March 7. However, neither Christian observers nor Laskar Jihad themselves reported any removals by mid-March 2002, and there were no reports of any prior to the start of their voluntary departure in October 2002. A member of the Laskar Jihad legal team told Human Rights Watch that most members had obtained the needed letter of introduction and reported to local officials, and none had been forced to leave. When inspection of ID cards began he expected this might be a problem, but said that many members were registering for local ID cards. Some Christians accused them of getting fraudulent documents from sympathetic officials, but Laskar Jihad asserted they were valid.
A similar lack of clarity on legal issues undermined implementation of the Malino Declaration. The joint Security Restoration Operation had already specified a phase where law enforcement would take priority, and the Malino Declaration specified that a law enforcement approach would be taken for the five months after February 7, primarily regarding illegal weapons possession. It did not specify a policy for crimes committed before or after that phase. As it is, members of both communities expressed concern that new incidents involving both civilians and security forces were being ignored or downplayed in the interests of peace. The question of justice for past incidents, such as the killings of fourteen Muslims at Buyung Katedo or the November 2001 destruction of Christian communities, has also not been addressed.
The Malino Declaration set an important precedent through its recognition of the need for broader-based dialogue, a multi-dimensional approach to conflict resolution, and adequate funding. But the residual weaknesses of a top-down, security-oriented approach need to be fixed in Poso and in all similar efforts. The crucial question of justice for past crimes and removal of outside groups needs far more clarity, teeth, and monitoring to avoid continuing tensions.135
The Malino declaration helped reduce the level of violence. There continued to be occasional bombings or fights, a few of them fatal, but little of the wholesale destruction of villages or widespread killings of the previous four phases. Referring to the fragile peace, residents frequently referred to Poso as "not safe, but secured." One displaced person told Human Rights Watch she was convinced that "if security forces are removed we will all be shot within hours." Many families were sending a few members home to clean up and build temporary housing, but had no plans to dismantle their carefully built shelters.136
In the first major threat to the agreement, on New Year's Eve four churches were bombed in Palu, including a Pentecostal church, an Adventist Church, and an Indonesian Protestant Church. There was some debate about a relationship to the violence in Poso. The buildings did not belong to the Central Sulawesi Christian Church, the denomination most closely associated with the red side, and they were all in Palu, not Poso. The bombing of churches over the holidays occurs almost annually in Indonesia, a pattern that has been linked to both national politics and to Muslim extremists.
However, one of three men arrested in Palu was a Malino signatory from the Muslim delegation. Identified as Yon or YS, he was charged with making maps of the churches and hiding bomb materials at a neighbor's house. Muslim leaders condemned the bombings as an effort to bring the conflict to the provincial capital of Palu. The effort was not successful, although minor incidents continued in Poso itself.137
A Muslim legal advocacy team identified nine cases of alleged abuse of Muslim civilians by Brimob units and three by army units between the Malino declaration and February 14, 2002.138 Whether these cases demonstrate bias, the all too common human rights abuses by security officers, or both, is difficult to determine. Residents were also concerned that incidents of violence were frequently written off as purely criminal (tindak pidana murni) in order to give the impression that the conflict had ended. For example, in March the Central Sulawesi Police Chief asserted all fourteen recorded cases of violence since the Malino accord were criminal rather than sectarian, including the bombing of the government emergency aid office.139
Rumors circulated in the Christian community that Muslims were threatening to attack as soon as the troops withdrew. In mid-January, Muslims in Malei were still conducting patrols with Laskar Jihad, again on the claim that Christians were stealing their cacao. A journalist visiting the area after the Malino accords saw four weapons workshops still in operation in both Tentena and Poso.140
Late May and June 2002 saw some worrying developments, and by August one NGO reported that there had been twenty five violations of the Malino Declaration with no effective response by police.141 One resident described "a shift from an open war to a secret war of bombings and mysterious shootings."142 Yusuf Kalla, one of the architects of the Malino Declaration, noted in early August, "There is no more conflict among the people, but there are small terror groups...They explode bombs one day and fire shots on another." Kalla blamed unidentified Indonesians from outside the region, but said neither Laskar Jihad nor the military was behind the recent violence.143
A man named Agus Pasolle, who had recently returned to Lakalemba village in Poso Pesisir subdistrict, was found dead on May 16. On June 5, a bomb exploded on a bus in Toini village in Poso Pesisir subdistrict, on the main Palu-Poso-Tentena route, killing four and injuring seventeen passengers, all Christians. Another returned displaced person named Risman Pontali (48) was found dead in Kayamanya on June 9.144
On July 1, 2002, the Security Restoration Operation was replaced with a three-month security maintenance operation (operasi pemiliharaan keamanan), still under the command of the Central Sulawesi police chief. Troop strength was reduced from over 4,000 to 2,100 police, plus two companies of soldiers. The police said that they were able to reduce security forces because neighborhood watch groups, or siskamling, were helping to guard the peace.145
Another bomb exploded on a bus traveling from Palu to Tentena on July 12. An NGO investigation at the scene found that the bus left Palu at noon heading for Tentena. After arriving in Poso without incident the bus entered the hills of Kawua and Ranononcu. Just twenty meters from a joint army/police post, the driver, Jhoni (32), saw a bag by the side of the road. He stopped, thinking it had fallen off a previous bus. (Due to the shootings and bombings, buses often drive in convoys). As it was being loaded onto the bus the bag exploded, killing a seventeen-year-old female passenger and injuring several others. Within fifteen minutes a bomb squad assigned to the Poso police arrived and marked off the crime site and the other passengers were questioned, but no perpetrators were identified.146
Beginning in July, there were five mysterious shooting incidents:
· On July 3 at 1:30 p.m., unknown assailants shot Ivert Lengkono (49), from Betania village in Poso Pesisir subdistrict, while he was riding his motorcycle home. The hospital extracted a bullet, said to be from a Colt, but Lengkono died five days later.
There were no arrests, and comments by provincial military commander Colonel Suwayuhadji only added to the confusion. The colonel told the press in early August that for the past few weeks Kopassus soldiers had been secretly investigating reports of foreign soldiers, as well as the bus bombings, without even the knowledge of the police. He added that there was a "point of clarity" (titik terang) on the identity of those disrupting the peace but gave no details, acknowledging that the "hardest job is to find the perpetrators of mysterious shootings. The Indonesian Military is committed to reveal the mastermind of the bomb terror and mysterious shooter in Poso."148 No suspects have been identified to date.
The seven-month implementation period of the Malino Declaration ended on July 31, 2002. Residents had reported rumors of a new round of attacks as soon as the declaration period and the army presence ended. At first there seemed little change. The police resumed searching homes for weapons on August 1 and reported confiscating several homemade rifles.149 On August 3, 2002, there was a closed meeting of Malino signatories and top provincial and district officials to evaluate developments in Poso. The next day the Poso bupati Muin Pusadan announced the creation of a Communication Forum (Forkom) to replace the pokja working groups. He said the forum would be active at village and subdistrict level, unlike the provincial and district working groups, but that a small team at the district level would support and coordinate local activities. He hoped they would be operational by the end of August.
But even as the signatories were meeting, the decapitated body of a local Muslim leader named Sukirman was found in Tegalrejo on August 3. Participants at the workshop called for a police investigation of the killing in the hopes of preventing new violence.150
However, early the next day a series of attacks began, several of them fatal. According to a local NGO investigation of the incident, early on August 4, unknown men advancing from the direction of the coast attacked Christian residents of Matako village. There was later gunfire from the hills as well. One witness told the NGO that at 3:30 a.m. he and two friends were resting after hunting for bats behind his home. They heard shots, followed by the sounding of the alarm by the village's civilian guard post. He reported hearing several volleys of gunfire and six explosions from the direction of the Matako Pentecostal Church. Seven residents were injured in their homes by gunshots: Lemu Tagandi (66), Padengka (32), Mayonge Katuta (75), Padea Paleba (67), Nety Toeya (49), Uce Doda (21), Silas Makeo (26), and Lemu Tagandi (66). The attack destroyed twenty-seven houses and both the Pentecostal Church and the Central Sulawesi Christian Church were burnt and bombed.151
Using trucks and taxis, the Central Sulawesi Christian Church's Crisis Center evacuated more than 1,500 Christians, mostly women and children, from Matako, Galuga, Malei-Lage, and Tongkoyang to Sepe and Silanca villages. An unknown number of Muslims also fled to villages where they felt safe. Local Muslim leaders told NGO investigators that they were especially saddened by the failure of about sixteen soldiers from Battalion 711 at a post near the Matako clinic, as well as police officers at a nearby Brimob post, to take any action to stop the attack.152
In another attack on Tuesday, August 6, 2002, nine men fired shots and threw Molotov cocktails in Malitu, Poso Pesisir subdistrict, according to a police spokesman and NGO reports. Twenty-one temporary homes were destroyed and 500 people fled, but there were no casualties.153 Two days later unknown attackers fired on a bus with automatic weapons killing an Italian tourist and injuring four other passengers near Mayoa village in South Pamona subdistrict.154
Minister Kalla and Police Chief Dai Bachtiar facilitated another follow-up meeting on August 11-12. Participants at the meeting agreed that violence, arson, murder, and provocation are criminal acts for which perpetrators bear individual responsibility. They pledged to fully support the efforts of security forces to restore peace.155
But as in the previous week, new violence broke out just as the meeting ended. Six people were reported killed and hundreds of homes destroyed in several Christian areas, again including the neighboring villages of Sepe and Silanca. Press accounts identified five of the dead as Y. Ombitaka (60), Eipius Montorutu (24), Ndolu Sulelino (31), Sena Kangea (32), and Efrata Lagani (35). A Crisis Center official accused a group of Brimob of attacking nearby Batugencu village while looking for police officer Andi Amir, missing since August 10 when three Brimob officers were stopped by a Christian mob in Silanca village. The policeman's burnt body was found later.156
On August 15, the village of Mayumba, in Mori Atas subdistrict of Morowali district, was attacked and burnt with several fatalities. According to the Central Sulawesi Christian Church, the church helped organize the evacuation of Mayumba and neighboring Peleru over the next few days. On August 17 their cars were stopped and searched by security forces.157 The police reported finding fourteen homemade guns and ammunition in the car of Christian leader Pastor Rinaldy Damanik. Damanik denied the charges and claimed that the police had not followed procedures for a search regarding witnesses or receipts for confiscated property. After attempts to arrest him in Tentena were blocked by his supporters, he was summoned to national police headquarters in Jakarta to be questioned as a witness, and was arrested.158
A bomb exploded on the evening of September 19 near a bible school, causing three serious injuries. Three other bombs, described as sophisticated by police, were found and disarmed the next morning. Four more people were wounded by an explosion near the main market in Poso on September 26. 159
As of September there were 5,000 security officers in the area, 2,000 of them soldiers, including three battalions from outside the area. The twelve special forces (Kopassus) officers were still divided between Poso and Tentena, ostensibly watching for foreigners. The economy was again functioning, the roads were open, and there were few reports of shots in the night. Palu residents reported that explosions were still frequent, which were seen as unsuccessful efforts to bring the conflict to the capital. 160
An explosion rocked a nightclub on Bali on October 12, changing perceptions of radical Islam and terrorism in Indonesia. On October 15, three days after the blast in Bali, Laskar Jihad publicly announced a decision to disband. Laskar Jihad figures offered a variety of reasons for the decision, citing an internal dispute over whether the organization had become too political and lost its mission. Laskar Jihad leader Jafar Umar Thalib claimed the decision was unrelated to the Bali explosion, and had been made several days before the attack, after meeting with Saudi Arabian ulemas. Some observers assumed that the decision must have been prompted by the withdrawal of support from patrons in the military after the terrorist attack on Bali. Abdul Malik, spokesman of Laskar Jihad's Poso branch, denied the government had forced the organization to disband: "We dissolve our volunteer organization following the government's serious commitment to maintaining security and justice in the conflict area." 161 On November 6 the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) also announced that they were disbanding their paramilitary wing.
Observers expressed fears that Laskar Jihad or its more militant members might go underground and be harder to control, or that they could be used by the military or other groups. The first group of 600 returning Laskar Jihad members arrived by ship in Jakarta on October 18 from Maluku. The group was part of two batches of 750 said to be planning a return to their schools and home villages in East and Central Java. Christian leaders in Maluku and Papua reported that over 1,000 remained and that harassment continued.162
A journalist who has closely followed the Poso violence told Human Rights Watch that one week after Laskar Jihad's announcement, approximately one hundred members had passed through Palu on their way back to Java from Poso. An unknown number had decided to remain in Central Sulawesi, ostensibly to carry out social service, though no longer under the Laskar Jihad name.163 The continued presence of Laskar Jihad has long been a sore point for Christians unhappy with the implementation of the Malino accords. Security conditions in Poso will now largely hinge on whether Laskar Jihad's departure is carefully monitored to ensure that neither remaining radicals nor opportunistic attacks on Muslim communities further derail the peace process.
The question of casualties is extremely sensitive and political. The conflict has been fuelled by a sense of grievance made stronger by incomplete or slanted news reports on the latest attacks and rumors of impending massacres. The lack of clear reporting by the media or investigation by the government, coupled with the wide terrain and the duration of the conflict, make it difficult to determine the number of victims. It is important to acknowledge that both sides have suffered enormously in the conflict.
While some estimates go as high as 2,000, most come in between 500 and 1,000 deaths. The government estimated, as of December 5, 2001, just prior to the signing of the Malino accords, that 577 had been killed, 384 injured, 7,932 houses destroyed, and 510 public facilities burnt or damaged. A Muslim group, the Victims of the Poso Conflict Evacuation and Fact Finding Team (Tim Evakuasi Pencari Fakta Korban Muslim Kerusuhan Poso), claims that between May 2000 and December 2001, 840 Muslim bodies were recovered, mostly from the Poso River and the forests at the edge of the city. An unknown number were said to be missing. Many of the fatalities are thought to date to the third phase, in May and June 2000.164
While this question is something that could be determined by a thorough independent investigation, the highly politicized environment, the forward-looking terms of the Malino Declaration, and the weakness of the National Human Rights Commission make such an effort unlikely. If not carried out with a high degree of professionalism, such an inquiry could exacerbate conditions further.
But reconciliation is also likely to be impeded unless both sides feel that justice has been served in the worst crimes, and that the question of the missing is addressed. There are still grievous crimes for which no one has been held responsible, such as the killings of fourteen Muslims at Buyung Katedo in July 2001 and the razing of Christian villages in November. The families of the missing, many of whom were publicly taken away during attacks, are still waiting for information about their relatives.
With each new wave of violence, residents fled to areas where members of their religion made up the majority: Muslims went to Palu, Poso town, and the coastal town of Parigi, while Christians fled to Tentena and Napu in the mountains, or Manado in North Sulawesi. As of January 2002, just after the Malino Declaration was signed, the government's office for coordinating humanitarian response to the conflict estimated a total of 86,000 displaced persons in Central Sulawesi. The Central Sulawesi Christian Church estimated 42,000 displaced persons in Christian areas of the province. If these estimates are accurate, there were roughly even numbers of displaced people from both groups.165
After the Malino accord, there was some tentative progress. By late February 10,000 displaced persons had returned home, mostly to Poso town, Poso Pesisir, Lage, and Tojo subdistricts.166 Human Rights Watch found that in March 2002 many families were tentatively sending home male family members to clean up the wreckage and build temporary housing, while waiting to see if the situation remained stable. Some were also waiting for the end of the school year. Since then the number of displaced persons has steadily, but slowly, fallen. The district social welfare agency reported that, as of mid-July 2002, 43,308 persons had returned home, roughly 40 percent of the estimated 110,227 displaced people.167
There are two important exceptions to this positive trend. New violence often sends traumatized residents fleeing back to safe areas. For example, clashes in August 2002 forced some 1,200 to seek refuge in Tentena alone. Official or individual efforts to rebuild have been hurt by new rounds of violence throughout the crisis. Several people told Human Rights Watch they had seen their homes destroyed more than once, and the barracks built by the district government and TNI in 2000 were often targeted in attacks. Christians in Tentena also had no plans to dismantle their laboriously built shelters, in case they needed to seek refuge in the future. 168
The other important exception relates to displaced persons who are minorities in their home areas. Muslim displaced persons from Tentena told Human Rights Watch in Palu that they had no plans to go home, although a remnant of twenty-four Muslims had never left and reported the situation to be safe.
Some displaced persons were given access to land in their new areas, such as the Nunu area of Palu, and were able to support themselves through agricultural activities. Christian displaced persons in Tentena built extensive housing and many were able to find work in the market town, which did well economically since travel to other markets was limited. In areas where land or jobs were scarce the conditions were much worse.
A local NGO reported in August 2002 that the basic needs of displaced persons were not being met, noting the poor nutritional status of children, as well as widespread diarrhea, skin infections, and tetanus from gunshot wounds.169 A 2001 government mental health assessment indicated that more than 55 percent of those displaced suffered from psychological troubles, while the main health problems were malaria, respiratory infections, gastric-intestinal problems, and skin diseases.170
The U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement states that the government has "the primary duty and responsibility to establish conditions, as well as provide the means, which allow internally displaced persons to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes... or to resettle voluntarily in another part of the country."171 There is a continuing need for local and international NGOs and U.N. agencies to provide assistance in the voluntary return and rehabilitation of displaced persons. Leaders on both sides of the conflict noted the role of revenge attacks by displaced people in perpetuating the violence, so their voluntary return and reintegration is critical. Those displaced persons from areas in which they were a minority should not be pushed to return until they feel safe. Alternatively, the government can settle them in other areas.
42 Aragon, "Communal Violence in Poso." Other names listed are Christian Rongko, R. Tobondo, Dimba Tomimomor, Julius Pode, D. Limpadeli, Frans Saulino, and Eddy Bungkundapu. See Mappangara, ed., Respon Militer, p. 42.
45 Pusadan, a Poso native who had spent many years in Palu, was rumored to be the choice of Golkar leaders at the provincial level. Like Pusadan, the next district secretary (sekwilda) and speaker of the district assembly were also Golkar Muslims originally from the region of Bungku in Morowali. Resentment may have been further increased by the 1999 creation of the separate Morowali district, giving Bungku Muslims two bases of power.
50 According to one Tentena resident, the situation in Kelei was not one of training, but that a group of angry, displaced young men were on their own, able to return to Poso free from the restraint of more moderate community leaders. According to this view, these young men helped spark the third phase by going into town to defend the Catholic Church from a rumored attack and then sending back word that the battle was on.
54 Ambon arrows (panah Ambon) are projectiles named for their origin in Maluku. Fashioned out of metal bars used in construction, they are fired using bows or large slingshots. In Palu, Rp. 20,000 (U.S.$2.20) can buy a slingshot or more than twenty arrows. A Dum-dum is a homemade shotgun, originally used for hunting. Made from a hollow tube from a motorcycle part or pipe, this weapon fires small projectiles such as glass and nails up to fifty meters using the explosive charge from the heads of a box of matches. A basic version can be purchased for Rp. 60,000 (U.S.$6.60); a more sophisticated one using a trigger (and in some cases even rotating chambers) for Rp. 250,000 (U.S.$27.75). These originated in South Sulawesi and many Bugis reportedly brought them back after visiting their home province in the early stages of the conflict. Organik or factory made weapons included aging rifles, army or police weapons, and reportedly automatic weapons. There were also allegations that weapons meant for Christian fighters had been intercepted in the mail with an American return address.
74 "Poso Mencekam, 14 Tewas Dibantai," Mercusuar, July 4, 2001;"Pembantain Di Buyung Katedo Awal Pecahnya Poso Jilid IV," July 9, 2001. Another child, Mohammad Arif, was said to be missing, possibly raising the toll to fourteen.
92 Interestingly on December 8, 2001, a group of ten residents from Tabalo was detained in Betalemba for carrying weapons. The weapons were taken and the men were released on the grounds that the socialization phase of the latest police operation, in which fighters were urged to voluntarily surrender their weapons, had not yet been carried out. LPS-HAM, "Pandangan Akhir Tahun," p. 33.
100 "Sanginora and Dewua berhasil bumihangus," Berita Laskar Jihad, November 30, 2001; Crisis Center-GKST, "Jihad Muncul, Aparat Hilang," electronic posting, November 29, 2001 (on file at Human Rights Watch).
109 "Menko Polkam: Pemerintah akan lakukan Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan di Poso," Kompas Cybermedia, December 3, 2001; "Presiden Setuju Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan Terpadu di Poso," Kompas Cybermedia, December 4, 2001.
121 One journalist noted that many checkpoints had been taken over from Laskar Jihad and some still carried Osama Bin Laden posters. "Indonesian troops try to keep lid on Poso cauldron," Reuters, January 23, 2002.
135 The apparent success of Malino led to a "Malino II" in February 2002 to address the conflict in Maluku. The similarity of the agreements raised some concern that Jakarta had replaced a pro forma handshake with a pro forma ten point agreement. The conflict in Maluku was even more intractable: involving many islands, higher casualties, and more direct participation of security forces. The Malino II agreement has proved less effective than its predecessor in resolving the conflict.
136 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld upon request, Napu, March 2001. The national weekly Forum Keadilan wrote that "Revenge can't be erased like ink on a page. Each group seems to be waiting for the opposing side to make the first move." "Mencari Kembali Sintuvu Maroso," Forum Keadilan no. 40, January 20, 2002.
137 "Tersangka bom terancam hukuman mati," Surya, January 10, 2002. "Pemboman Gereja di Palu Adudomba Pihak Ketiga," Kompas Cybermedia, January 2, 2002; "Presiden Instruksikan Polri Agar Usut Kasus Bom Tahun Baru," Kompas Cybermedia, January 2, 2002.
151 As of August 5, there seven residents whose whereabouts were unknown. Four of them, Z. Doda,Olmas Daya, Yohan Ewakola, and Cecen D. Mangiri were on guard duty at the time of the attack, as well as father and two young children: Yayus Mayamba (30), Finda Mayamba (8) and Iva Mayamba (5). "Serangan Fajar Di Matako," LPS-HAM Investigative Report; "Poso Bergejolak, Tiga PO Tetap Beroperasi," Kompas, August 5, 2002.
153 Kondisi Pengungsi Di Kamp Kec. Lage, Kec. Pamona Utara, Pamona Timur, Poso Pesisir, Pamona Selatan, Dan Lore Utara Kabupaten Poso, LPS-HAM, August 2002. "Violence erupts in 'calm' Sulawesi," Straits Times, August 8, 2002.
161 "Laskar Jihad Denies Bali Link," Laksamana.net, October 17, 2002. The arrest of Abu Bakar Baasyir, the alleged spiritual leader of the al-Qaeda linked terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah, and of the leader of Front Pembela Islam, Habib Rizieq meant that the three most prominent radical Muslim leaders were simultaneously facing prosecution. The charges were unrelated to the Bali bombing, but the terrorist attack made the prosecutions politically feasible. The FPI leader was detained on charges of instigating violence and vandalism in connection with attacks on Jakarta nightclubs. This had gone on for several years, but a crackdown began after a particularly violent October 4 incident. At the time of this writing Baasyir had not been implicated in the Bali explosion and was being questioned after alleged al-Qaeda operative Omar al-Faruq linked the cleric to a series of Christmas 2000 church bombings.
162 "First batch of Laskar Jihad members arrive in Surabaya from Ambon," Jakarta Post, October 18, 2002. "Indonesia: Christian leaders says Laskar Jihad is still active," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, October 18, 2002.
171 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2 (1998),