A group of residents of Pamona, central Sulawesi, attacked General Haiti when he went to visit a police station there. Many Christians in the area hold him responsible for the execution by firing squad of three Catholics in Palu.
Poso (AsiaNews) Tension is rising in Poso in the Indonesian province of central Sulawesi, after three Catholics were executed on 22 September despite widespread international appeals. There are many Christians among the local population. Still shaken by the shooting of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva and Marinus Riwa, they are reacting strongly to just about anything.
Yesterday, a group of residents of East Pamona, Poso regency, attacked the provincial police chief, Badrodin Haiti, as he was paying an official visit to the local police commander. At the time, traditional festivities were under way for Padungku, a harvest festival. Recognizing Haiti as he was getting off a motorcycle, the crowd chased him. Two police vehicles were burned, but they were no injuries.
Many in central Sulawesi believe Haiti is the man responsible for the shooting of Tibo and friends in Palu on 22 September. Last month, his predecessor, General Oegroseno was removed from his post after he managed to postpone the execution of the three Catholics on 12 August. He was convinced of the need for more in-depth investigations into their case. Tibo and friends were condemned to death for being the leaders of Christian militias responsible for massacres of Muslims during sectarian clashes in Poso in 2000. Their defence lawyers and human rights activists consistently claimed the three men had had a summary trial.
Fr Ade, a priest of the Central Sulawesi Churches of Synod (GKST), said he was amazed by the reaction of the crowd: "I have no idea why the people became enraged so quickly." Reverend Rinaldy Damanik, who recently stepped down from the post of GKST chairman, expressed concern about what happened. East Pamona is a Christian majority zone.
Damanik said the local people did not welcome Haiti's presence there while they were celebrating a feast: "People are still very sensitive and it is not too difficult for situations to come about" as did yesterday, he added.
Members of their legal team said the Court in Geneva has the power to review the verdict of capital punishment. Yet more rumours have fixed the execution date for shortly after the sacred month of Ramadan.
After many delays, the authorities of central Sulawsi have fixed the date and place for the execution of Tibo and his two friends. Their families have reiterated their opposition to the "unjust" penalty and say the judges have proved to be "blind and deaf" when faced with new evidence in favour of the three men.
The authorities lifted an initial ban and allowed the remains of the youngest of the three executed Catholics to be taken for burial to his village of origin on the island of Flores. 10,000 people attended the ceremony.