Traditional Leaders in the Reconciliation of Muslim-Christian Conflicts in Moluccas

Traditional Leaders in the Reconciliation of Muslim-Christian Conflicts in Moluccas

Ichsan Malik (Indonesia Defense University, Indonesia & Daya Makara – Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia), Vici Sofianna Putera (University of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia & Daya Makara – Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia) and Idhamsyah Eka Putra (Persada Indonesia University, Indonesia & Daya Makara – Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4993-2.ch011

Abstract

It has been known that leaders play key roles in the reconciliation of intergroup conflicts. In Indonesia, during 1999-2003 of Muslims-Christians conflicts in Moluccas islands, the role of traditional leaders was essential in the reconciliation process. In this chapter, the authors aim to describe the efforts of conflict reconciliation in the Moluccas that happened in 1999-2003 in Indonesia. The chapter will (1) explore the pre-conflict condition to explain factors that triggered the conflict, (2) explain what occurred during the conflict as well as the condition, and (3) explain the process of how the traditional leaders got actively involved in the reconciliation process.
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Introduction: Traditional Leaders In The Moluccas And Their Roles In The Reconciliation Of Muslim-Christian Conflicts 1999-2003

In this chapter, we want to describe the efforts of conflict reconciliation in the Moluccas that happened in 1999-2003 in Indonesia. The purpose of this writing is to (1) explore the pre-conflict condition to explain factors that triggered the conflict; (2) explain what occurred during the conflict as well as the condition; (3) explain the process of how the traditional leaders got actively involved in the reconciliation process.

Overview

The conflict in Ambon, located in the Moluccas, first occurred on 19 January 1999, which was triggered by a fight between a Muslim youth and a Christian youth. The fight triggered a conflict between two religious groups, the Muslim community and the Christian community in Ambon. It should be noted that based on the population census in 2000, the population in the Moluccas was approximately 1.15 million people with the number of Muslims at 49.1% and the number of Christian Protestants at 50.2%. The conflict continued until January 2000 and resulted in thousands of deaths.

Going into the year 2000, the conflict in the Moluccas especially in Ambon continued and entered a new chapter, which was an armed conflict including bombing (Panggabean, 2004). During this stage, the conflict involved fighters from both sides. Many Muslim fighters came from outside of the Moluccas, especially from the island of Java supported by a militant Muslim organization that established Laskar Jihad. Facing that situation, in June 2000 the government declared a condition of civil emergency in the Moluccas and deployed thousands of soldiers and police in this province (Brown & Wilson, 2005). Several officers who were deployed in this conflict were not neutral, but the presence of military troops seemed effective when the violence subsided in 2002.

The Moluccan conflict is a conflict with the biggest scale in Indonesia viewed from coverage of the conflict, damage to infrastructure and the large number of casualties (Yanuarti, 2003). The conflict occurred between two groups who identified with the two-big religion in Indonesia, namely Islam and Christianity. Bar-Tal (2000) mentioned that conflict involving identity is a conflict that is difficult to resolve (intractable conflict) and there is little hope of it being resolved. The characters of intractable conflict according to Coleman (2006) are: a history of domination and unjust situation in the past; changes in dominance; complex issues interrelated between economic, politics and culture.

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