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ICC NOTE: This is yet another example of how governments play a part in the defense of human rights violations.


By Allie Martin

May 22, 2006

(AgapePress) – The director of a human rights group says the recent arrest of seven Muslims in connection with last year’s beheading of three Christian schoolgirls could be a political move by Indonesian officials.

The seven men are accused of taking part in the attack on four teenage girls as they walked to a Christian school in the community of central Sulawesi . Three of the girls were beheaded, but a fourth survived and was able to identify her attackers. Police believe some of the suspects were also involved in the July 2004 murder of a Christian pastor.

Ann Buwalda is director of the Jubilee Campaign, which monitors human rights abuses throughout the world. She believes the arrests of the Muslim suspects could be an effort by Indonesian government officials to divert attention from three Christian men who are currently facing the death penalty for acting in self-defense during riots between Christians and Muslims six years ago.

The Christian men are charged with having been ringleaders and stirring up the conflict, Buwalda notes. However, she says the conflict has much deeper roots.

“These men were involved in defending their homes and their churches from Laskar Jihad militants who were rampaging and burning them down,” the Jubilee Campaign spokeswoman explains. “Many in the Christian community view these men as peacekeepers, as those who are trying to keep their community from attack by the Laskar Jihad.”

According to the Center for Defense Information in Washington , DC , Laskar Jihad is an Indonesian militant group that has received attention in past years for its unrelenting attacks against Christians on the islands of Moluccas and Sulawesi . More recently, the radical Muslim organization has been under scrutiny for its possible connections with other international terrorist groups, including al Qaeda.

A number of Indonesian human rights groups have taken up the cause of the three Christian men — Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Dasilva and Marinus Riwu — who have been denied clemency by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The three prisoners maintain their innocence and claim that their convictions resulted from irregularities during their trial.