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Politics and religion II.

Ambon -- In February 2004, the bishop of Amboina appealed for funds to help refugees in the post-civil war society. "Many are still in camps simply because they have no means of transport or money to rebuild their homes," said Bishop Petrus Mandagi in statements published by the Vatican agency Fides.

The bishop made his statements after a meeting in London, England, organized by the International Islamic-Christian Organization for Reconciliation and Reconstruction, IICORR. After the meeting, Bishop Mandagi and other religious leaders signed a statement declaring their "deep commitment to the process of reconciliation in the Moluccas ... between the Christian and Muslim communities."

In spite of efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, 36 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in April. A church and a UN office were set ablaze as Muslim and Christian residents of Ambon fought street battles. The clashes began after police arrested (and then released) a number of people for trying to raise the banned flag of a mostly Protestant Christian rebel group, the South Moluccas Republic movement.

Politics, not religion, lies at the root of the conflict, says Bishop Mandagi. Confrontations were between a group that supports the integrity of the Indonesian territory and a group of separatists that wants to revive the South Moluccas Republic.

According to the Pontifical Foreign Missionary Works, some political analysts in Jakarta see behind the Ambon confrontations a "grand strategy" among high military personnel to stir up trouble before the July 5 presidential elections (Zenit, February & April 2004).
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Title Annotation:Indonesia
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Previous Article:Pastoral policy.
Next Article:Probe points to cover-up.

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