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Sunday, July 09, 2000

Open Letter on Ambon and Makuku, Indonesia

The situation in Ambon and all of the Malukus in Indonesia has worsened! In Ambon the state university has been burned, the Christian university has been burned, Waii town has been attacked.

I speak with authority on this subject, I was Field Coordinator for MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) in Ambon between May 1999 and February 2000 and remain in frequent contact with Ambon.

The government and military are unable to control the situation. The government cannot control the military who are every day more directly involved in the fighting and who ignore directives from the duly authorised civilian authorities.

I have witnessed fully armed military involvement in clashes in Ambon. I have seen numerous "Jihad" donation collectors and posts on the streets of Jakarta.

The civilian population is increasingly being subjected to acts of terror - burning of neibour-hoods, snipers on the streets, the spontaneous use of lethal force by the military and military involvement in rioting.

The infrastructure has broken down and basic health, education and most other services are no longer available.

In terms of deaths, destruction and displaced persons the Malukus are more serious than East Timor.

The international community has a responsibility to act when national governments are unable or unwilling to fulfil their basic responsibilities to their citizens.

The length of the conflict in the Malukus (actually beginning in Dec. 1998 in the Aru islands, not Ambon) and the increasing gravity show a situation out of control, requiring international intervention.

The Indonesian government cannot or will not control the violence.

Our previous expressions of concern have been ignored and continue to be ignored

The international community must act to stop the violence against all civilians, Muslim, Christian and Hindu.

Please act now.

Richard Rowat

P.O. Box 86,

Sixteen Island Lake,



J0T 2M0

Sent to:

The Honourable Jean Cretien - Prime-Minister of Canada

The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy - Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Robert R. Fowler, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations

Ambassador Ken Sunquist - Canadian ambassador to Indonesia