“Seeking have been shaped by regional and global dynamics.

“Seeking vengeance by
clustering with brothers in faith attempting to overthrow one another is one of
man’s greatest fallacies from time to time.”


William Butler

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is one of the world’s great plural societies. Its population of 238 million
spans thousands of islands and hundreds of ethnic and religious groups, the
local lives of which have been shaped by regional and global dynamics. The
archipelago established a program of shared values called ‘Pancasila’, to generate ‘unity in diversity’ or ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ (Pedersen, 2016). The
Indonesian constitution guarantees all people in Indonesia the freedom of
worship, each according to his or her own religion or belief. It also
stipulates that the state shall be based upon the belief in “the one and
only God” (a condition which also forms the first principle of the Pancasila, the Indonesian state philosophy introduced by Soekarno in 1945) (Indonesia Investments, n.d.).

Indonesia contains the largest Muslim population of all countries
in the world. The current number of Muslim inhabitants is estimated to be
around 207.2 million. Christianity is the second-largest religion in Indonesia
which is estimated approximately 23.5 million people (Statistics Indonesia, 2010). Unfortunately,
religion has also been the cause of much violence throughout the history
of Indonesia, especially those two. There is a tendency to reify social groupings, to
talk in terms of societies ‘managing’ their diversity; but as the contributions
here make clear, diversity in ethnic and religious groupings is not an existing
state, but an ongoing production. The question, then, becomes not so much about
social organization, but about the social construction of cultural difference (Pearson, 2014). This short paper attempts to learn a study case, which is “The Poso’s Tragedy”,
emphasizing on what’s the root cause and how they resolve the problem.

it all started

Poso district residents have lived with religious violence
since December 1998. After three years of episodic fighting, death toll
estimates range from 1,000 to 2,500, with thousands more injured. Scores of
churches and mosques have been torched. Nearly 100,000 have fled their burning
homes, leaving the capital of Poso district described at one time as a ‘dead
city’, though some are now returning (Aragon L. , 2007).

violent conflict in Poso started on 24 December 1998: Christmas Eve and
Ramadan. While the chain of events is contested, most accounts begin with three
drunken Christian youths who came to Darussalam mosque in the village of Sayo late
in the night of 24 December or in the early hours of 25 December and beat up a
youth in a mosque (Encip, 2002).
This incident left Muslims feeling vulnerable, leading them to attack Christian
homes. News of this soon spread and many people tried to enter Poso city from
the surrounding areas. Muslims came from Tokorondo, Parigi, and Ampana; while
Christians armed with machetes came from Sepe, Silanca and Tentena. Riots
continued until 29 December, spilling beyond the borders of the city and into
towns along Poso’s three major access roads (Lasahido, 2003).

of the conflict

After the week’s violence, there were few attacks by
either Christians or Muslims until April 2000, which marked the beginning of
the conflict’s second phase. The pause in violence is commonly attributed to
national elections held in June 1999 and district head elections held in
October 1999, when political elites sought to gain the support of both
communities. On 16 April 2000, a fight amongst Muslim and Christian youths started
in a Poso bus terminal in Lombogia village, a predominantly Christian area. Muslims
began to attack houses in Lombogia and burned down its major church (Aditjondro, 2004).

Christians sought revenge. The third phase of the
conflict began in May 2000 when a Christian group known as the Army of the Bat
(sometimes referred to as pasukan kelelawar or ninjas) led by Fabianus Tibo killed
three people in Mo-Engko village. More modern weapons were used and there was
greater co-ordination and planning of attacks. Violence escalated significantly
when an attack was launched on Situwu Lemba village, also known as Kilo Sembilan
(Kilo Nine). The village was home to Muslim Javanese transmigrants and housed a
Muslim boarding school, or pesantren, called Wali Songo. Around 70 people were
killed or disappeared in the attack. Poso city was targeted, prompting the
displacement of many Muslims from the city. The Kilo Sembilan attack triggered
a call to Muslims in surrounding areas to take up arms. It also prompted the
Indonesian army to deploy in much larger numbers (Encip, 2002, pp. 20-23).

resurgence of the conflict

In August 2000, President Abdurrahman Wahid was
invited by the four Governors from Sulawesi for a peace meeting, gathering 14
traditional (adat) leaders from Poso district. The initiative, known as Rujuk
Sintuwu Maroso, was arranged by the provincial government, authorities from
Poso district, and the four Governors in Sulawesi – but it had little effect (Aragon, 2001, p. 71).

In April 2001, the growing anger of the Muslim community
was reflected in their call for the death penalty against the three Christians
– Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus Dasilva – who had been accused of
involvement in the Kilo Sembilan attack. Extremists groups from outside Poso
sought to exploit this anger and, in July 2001, thousands of members of Laskar
Jihad (a Muslim militia based in Java) arrived in Poso, marking the beginning
of the fourth phase of the conflict (Rozi, Syafuan, Mashad, Dhurorudin, & et. al.,
Their entry into the conflict changed its dynamics, giving a significant boost
to Muslims, who attacked and burned Christian villages around Poso city. The conflict
became much more one-sided.


In December 2001, a co-ordinated attack by Muslim
groups took place on multiple villages, from Betalembah to Sanginora, marking
the beginning of the fifth phase of the conflict. The central government sent
2000 troops to try and control the violence in Poso, bringing the total number
of security forces in the area to around 3500. (Lasahido, 2003, p. 55). At the same time,
the Government sponsored peace talks which culminated in the Malino Peace
Declaration (Malino I) signed on 21 December 2001 by Muslim and Christian
leaders (Aditjondro, 2004). It called on all
parties to end all violence and, despite its shortcomings, it did have some
effect. Direct clashes between the two communities decreased, although sporadic
bombings and shootings continued with the vast majority committed by Muslim
groups. The three Christians suspected of carrying out the Kilo Sembilan attack
were executed in September 2006, which in turn provoked several violent
incidents in protest (Dyah, Ariesusanty, & Abbas, 2006).

Part of the success in reducing the violence can be
attributed to the security forces, who grew in confidence after Malino I was
signed and became more committed to arresting those carrying out attacks.
Perhaps the apex of this was a 2007 police raid on Tanah Runtuh, which had been
a base for Laskar Mujahidin and local Laskars, and a previous no-go zone1
(Karnavian, 2008). However, the fact those
years of conflict had led to segregated communities – with Muslims centered
around Poso and Christians around Tentena – also removed some of the motivations
for committing attacks as well as the ability to do so.

groups prolonged the Poso conflict by additional bomb attacks. The Malino
agreement was a turning point of the conflict however it was not the end of
violence. The latter was achieved only after the raid on Tanah Runtuh.