Yesterday, Thamrin Amal Tomagola of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Indonesian University, said," I was informed that some 80% of men living in three Muslim villages of Tobelo were massacred.Mr. Tomagola, who is a sociologist and was born in Galela, Halmahera, added that each of the villages was inhabited by around 200 to 300 family units.
According to Thamrin
, the indication that there would be attack on the Muslims in Tobelo was noticed on 25 December when there was a huge people gathering in Tobelo.The crowd came from some districts in North Halmahera and Ternate and the number reached about 10 to 20 thousands people.Thamrin
said that he
did not know who provoked them to carry out the attack."For sure, on 26 December 1999, they did the attack on the Muslim enclaves in the city of Tobelo after [Ramadan] break fast," he
told.On 28 December 1999, he
continued, a convoy of trucks laden with people were roaming the streets.
disclosed that since a sectarian conflict erupted in Makian Malifut district on 18 August 1999, the death toll has reached 2500 people.The tension that built up in North Halmahera started when Christian community in Kao
expelled Muslim inhabitants of Makian Malifut from their villages to Ternate Island.
The Muslims then took revenge by driving out Christian inhabitants in Ternate who then took refuge in North Sulawesi and in majority-majority areas of North Halmahera.The social tension which has currently turned into inter-religious clashes in the upper part of the northern region of Halmahera island, Thamrin
said, is the follow-up of the conflicts in Makian Malifut district on 18 August.
At present, Thamrin
said, the Muslims in North Halmahera were besieged.They were driven out from Tobelo and Kao districts.Only around 3000 people remains in Galela district, where Muslims are majority, whereas some 5000 of the inhabitants have fled to Ternate.About 400 [Muslim] youths have determined to defend Soa Siu City."Apart from that, Muslim enclaves in Jaelolo district are currently under siege by Christians," he
added.The Indonesian Government and the National Commission for Human Rights
(Komnas HAM): Too luggish…!!!!!Although the conflict in North Halmahera was extremely tragic, with thousands of people dead, Thamrin
sees the Government being too slow in giving response.Indonesian Army
(Tentara National Indonesia-TNI), Thamrin
admitted, reacted quickly by sending additional troops from Malang, Solo and Madiun.But, he
continued, no real help from Government has been given to deal with the social atastrophe in the region."I have not seen any proper coordination and arrangement from the Government.Indeed, the real aids came from local NGOs," said Thamrin
was also dismayed by Komnas HAM which was less responsive with this extraordinary human right violation in North Halmahera.To illustrate the enormous scale of the human right violation, Thamrin
mentioned that the conflict has been going on for about five months, yet the dead victims have reached 2500; whereas Ambon conflict [which is relatively longer] caused merely 1200 people died."Komnas HAM just came over during the first conflict on 18 August 1999, but they did not even set up a special team [to investigate the following] conflicts on 26 November and end of December 1999," he
From the reports he
continuously receives, Thamrin
said that hostility is still there despite of the deployment of additional troops.