Indonesia: Execution of three Catholics

Source: FSSPX News


On September 21, Fabianus Tibo (60), Dominggus da Silva (42) and Marianus Riwu (48) were shot in Palu, the provincial capital of Sulawesi (Celebes). These Catholic Indonesian farmers were condemned to death in April 2001 after having been found guilty of murder and incitement to murder during riots between Christians and Muslims in 2000 at Celebes.

 Indonesia is 90% Muslim in a population of 220 million and 5% Christian, which, in certain regions in the east of the country, including Sulawesi and Maluku constitutes around half of the population.

 “The authorities did not allow the bodies of the three men to be placed in St. Mary’s church in the town of Palu where the executions took place, nor the prescribed religious rites to be carried out. It was after this that the disturbances started,” Fr. Ignatius Ismartono, secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue in Indonesia, told the agency MISNA. “An airplane,” he explained, “transported the bodies of Fabianus Tibo and and Marianus Riwu to Beteleme, the village where they were born, in the district of Morowalai, Sulawesi province, while the body of Dominggus da Silva, originally from the distant island of Flores, was buried immediately after the execution.” Palu, the capital of the Island was placed under surveillance; 4000 police officers were seconded there.

 At Atambua, a mainly Christian locality in the western part of the Island of Timor, the demonstrators attacked businesses owned by Muslims, throwing stones at windows before setting fire to the offices of the prosecutor and invading the prison. Adang Daradjatun, deputy police chief at Jakarta, said: “A demonstration of around one thousand people took place. The demonstrators caused damage to the premises of the public prosecutor and broke into the prison” in order to set free the 200 prisoners. Fr. Yustus, a priest of the diocese of Atambua confirmed that he and colleagues had managed to calm the crowd: “we spoke to around a thousand people in a field. At present they have all returned home.”

 Amnesty International spoke through Isabelle Cartron, an expert from the organization for the defense of human rights, for Southeast Asia: “Such murders approved by the State are even more unacceptable when there are, as in this case, serious doubts about the fairness of the trials.” The European Union has asked Indonesia to hold a moratorium on the death penalty and has issued a communiqué: “reaffirming the position of the EU against the death penalty and recalling that the EU has made this known on several occasions to the Indonesian authorities, the presidency wishes to express its regret over these executions.”

 In Jakarta, the vice-president Jusuf Kalla stated that the execution of the three Indonesians “was not an ethnic or religious affair, but a matter of justice.”

 Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, declared: “we are all deeply saddened and we pray to Our Lord that the blood which has been shed may be a sign of hope for all believers in our merciful God.”

 On September 23, a Vatican communiqué stated: “The Holy See learnt with deep regret the news of the executions of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu, judged responsible for the violence which took place at Poso, in Indonesia, in 2000,” recalling that the Secretariat of State had intervened in the name of the Holy Father “several times to ask the Indonesian authorities for a gesture of clemency, in favor of the three condemned,”- an appeal for mercy was addressed by Benedict XVI personally to the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on August 11. The communiqué added that the Holy See wanted to “contribute to efforts in favor of the reconciliation process in Indonesia and to the traditional peaceful co-existence between persons of different religions, which he hoped would continue to distinguish this great country.” The Vatican pointed out that it was expressing itself “on strictly humanitarian grounds, inspired by the well known position of the Catholic Church concerning the death penalty, taking carefully into account the details of this distressing case.”