INDONESIA Ambon. The bishop asked the authorities to respect religious coexistence

The head of the western regency of Seram denied the Christian community access to a road to go to a national religious event. Between 1999 and 2002, sectarian clashes between Protestants and Muslims took place in that area, causing the death of more than 5,000 people. Monsignor Seno Ngutra: The authorities are not always friendly with Christians.

Ambon () – The bishop of the diocese of Amboina accused the local authorities of hindering and complicating peaceful coexistence between the religious communities of the Moluccas.

In a meeting with journalists that took place in his residence, Bishop Seno Ngutra yesterday openly criticized the head of the regency of Western Seram, a region where between 1999 and 2002 sectarian clashes between Muslims and Protestant Christians caused the death of more than 5,000 people.

General Andi Asaddudin, who governs the district, denied the Christian community access to a main road leading to Kupang, the city where the Presparani festival, a major national Catholic event, will take place in October.

“The head of the district prevented peaceful movement, so we expressed our concern to the governor of the Moluccas”, explained Bishop Ngutra. “The leaders of the interfaith forum were also denied an interview with General Asaddudin,” the cleric added. In recent days, representatives of the various religions in the district, including bishops, have had their personal vehicles confiscated. Members of the forum for interreligious dialogue had already filed complaints about it with the Minister of the Interior, Tito Karnavian, and with President Joko Widodo.

It is not the first time that General Asaddudin has been against the activities of the Christian community. The budget for the Presparani festival was granted only after much pressure, explained Bishop Ngutra: “It is a good gesture that the government has allocated a budget from public funds, but I am also inclined to take into account the personal gestures of the general, who He has not always been very kind to the Catholic community,” the prelate said. “In fact, many times he has questioned the need to hold the Pesparani festival and other aspects related to the event.”

At the time, the Moluccan conflict was very violent on the islands of Amboina and Halmahera. The clashes began as a result of the economic and political instability after the fall of the Suharto government, when the province of Moluccas (Maluku) was divided into two parts. Christian and Muslim religious militias clashed and there was much bloodshed until the signing of the Malino II agreements in 2002.

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Written by Editor TLN

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