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Press Release — February 7, 2003

Rev. Damanik’s Trial Postponed:

Indonesian Christian Leader Falsely Accused

Rev. Rinaldy Damanik, a vocal spokesman for reconciliation, and a signer of the Malino Peace Agreement was imprisoned for his efforts to help Christians and to bring an end to the conflict in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. He was arrested on September 9, 2002 and has been charged under Emergency Law #12/1951 for the possession of dozens of rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. The Palu District Court began hearing Damanik’s case on February 3, 2003 and was guarded by more than 50 police officers. Rev. Damanik told the court that the weapons and ammunition were planted in his vehicle and said: “May God help me to understand why I have been detained for such a long time and why I am brought to this respected court, because I know I’m not guilty.” The trial was adjourned until February 10th to allow Damanik’s lawyers more time to prepare their case.

Rev. Damanik is known as a critic of the police and the government authorities for their lack of involvement in resolving and bringing an end to violence in the Poso area. According to the Jakarta Post, the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Poso has claimed the lives of some 2,000 people over three years of violence. Rev. Damanik also has been a key supporter of the reconciliation process. In addition to his arrest, another attempt to silence him occurred on December 26, 2002 as medical reports confirmed that Damanik’s food contained rat poison.

This case must be contrasted to the freeing of Laskar Jihad leader, Jafar Umar Thalib on January 30, 2003. Thalib has been cited in numerous speeches agitating and inciting violence of Muslims against the Christians. Christians must protest this injustice.

Letters of protest can be written on behalf of Rev. Damanik. His lawyers have asked that his trial be transferred to Jakarta. Request that the police ensure Rev. Damanik’s safety and ask for an impartial and fair trail. Please email President Megawati at presiden@ri.go.id or write:

Her Excellency Megawati Sukarnoputri
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Office of the President
Istana Merdeka
Jakarta 10110
Indonesia
Fax: 011-62-21-345-7782

International Christian Concern is a Washington, DC-based human rights and aid organization that assists Christians worldwide who suffer oppression and persecution. More information is available on the ICC web site at www.www.persecution.org or by calling the ICC office at 1-301-989-1708.