WASHINGTON (July 24, 2000) -- Indonesia must quickly restore order in the Molucca Islands and allow humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to the victims of violence there, according to the Chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made public today, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law urged her to press Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on the situation in the Moluccas, formerly known as the Spice Islands, during an upcoming visit.
The full text of Cardinal Law's letter follows:
"As you prepare for your trip to South East Asia, including Indonesia, I want to reiterate my very deep concern about the inter-communal violence and paramilitary atrocities still being committed against the people of the Molucca Islands.
"President Abdurrahman Wahid's actions in declaring a state of civil emergency and announcing plans to rotate troops who fail to maintain neutrality are welcome but clearly inadequate. As you doubtless know, the religious leadership of the region, including the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Amboina, have called on the United Nations to intervene, a proposal which President Wahid has thus far rejected. Whatever the right formula, it is essential that the Indonesian government take decisive action both to control its own military and to disarm the murderous militia armies.
"I know you share these concerns. I can only urge you to make the strongest case possible that order be restored immediately and that international aid agencies be allowed to carry out their essential humanitarian work, needed now more than ever."