2005 Indonesian beheadings of Christian girls

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On 30 October 2005, Theresia Morangke (15), Alfita Poliwo (17) and Yarni Sambue (17) were beheaded by Muslim militants in the Poso region on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, an area plagued by sectarian violence since 2001.[1] The attackers planned the beheadings after a visit to the Philippines. In 2006, three men were arrested and in 2007 convicted of the crime, one being sentenced to 20 years in prison and the others to 14 years.

Background[edit]

Central Sulawesi has experienced Muslim-Christian violence in recent years. The most serious violence occurred between 1998 and into 2000. Over 1,000 people were killed in violence, riots, and tens of thousands were expelled from their homes.[2] After a period of relative calm, hostilities were reignited by rumors that a Muslim girl had been raped by a Christian. Thousands of Muslims and Christians died in the following year, and more than 60,000 families are reported to have fled their homes.[3]

The Malino peace accord was signed in 2001 and produced a dramatic decline in violence, but in the following years, tension and systematic attacks persisted.[2] In 2003, 13 Christians were killed in the Poso District by unknown masked gunmen.[2] In May 2005, a bomb blast in the nearby town of Tentena, killed twenty-two people and injured more than thirty.[4] Days after the killings, two 17 year-old schoolgirls were shot in the same area.[5]

Christian community leaders have repeatedly criticized the authorities for allegedly not doing enough to find the perpetrators of attacks on Christians in Sulawesi.[6]

The attack[edit]

The three teenagers were walking to a private Christian school in Central Sulawesi province with their friend Noviana Malewa, 15, when they were attacked by a group of six masked men armed with machetes. The attackers left one of the girls' heads outside a church. A note was left with the severed heads, which were dumped in plastic bags in the girls' village, which stated: "Wanted: 100 more heads, teenaged or adult, male or female; blood shall be answered with blood, soul with soul, head with head."[1][7][8] Malewa, the youngest, survived the attack with serious wounds to her neck.[9] The surviving girl was able to describe the attackers to the police.

Five suspects, including a former military police officer, were arrested and later released for lack of evidence, although three were subsequently re-arrested. The trial of three men, Irwanto Irano, Lilik Purwanto and Hasanuddin began in November 2006.[8] In February 2007, prosecutors recommended 20-year jail sentences for all three defendants. The prosecutors said they were not seeking the death penalty because the defendants had shown remorse and been forgiven by the victims' families.[10] The sentences were passed on 21 March 2007. Hasanuddin was given 20 years for planning the attack, while two accomplices were given 14 years. Hasanuddin had told the court he helped plan the attack, but he denied allegations he masterminded it.[1]

On going to jail, Hasanuddin said "It's not a problem (if I am being sentenced to prison) because this is a part of our struggle."[1] Hasanuddin was the leader of the regional Islamic Jihadist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) for the Poso district.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Indonesians jailed for beheadings". BBC News. 21 March 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Indonesia flashpoints: Sulawesi". BBC News. 28 June 2004. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  3. ^ McDougall, Dan (20 November 2005). "Machete killings fuel Indonesia's religious hatred". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Blasts strike Indonesian market". BBC News. 28 May 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "asianews.it". [dead link]
  6. ^ "Three Schoolgirls Beheaded in Indonesia". FOX News. 29 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Fitzpatrick, Stephen (9 November 2006). "Beheaded girls were Ramadan 'trophies'". The Australian. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Indonesia beheadings trial opens". BBC News. 8 November 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Muslim Militants Confess To Beheading Christian Schoolgirls". OpinionBug.com. 15 May 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2012.  (Warning! Graphic Images)
  10. ^ "Prison demand for Poso suspects". BBC News. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Islamic Militants in Indonesia Jailed for Beheading Christian Girls". Voice of America. 1 November 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 

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