Yesterday a pastor from Ambon came to the office. He shared his experiences in destruction of the Poka area of Ambon, the escape with his children including an eleven month old baby in heavy rain and high seas, and news of the thousands living in the mountains. His baby was soaking wet for hours from the rain and sea. When they reached the other side of the bay they heated a little water and rubbed the water on the baby to warm it. The baby has lost three kilos in the last week and was sick this morning.
There are thousands of people trying to keep dry and warm under trees and sheets of plastic. They are running out of food and getting food is difficult. We are trying to get help by buying food but we haven't been able to send money to Ambon for the past week.
The following report reveals that heavy automatic weapons and large size mortars being used by the military against Christians. The pastor reported the use of lethal gas!!
The church organizations of Indonesia are sending another joint letter to the president and are calling for a day of prayer and a demonstration at the National Monument. Please keep encouraging people to pray. May there be an united voice from around the world pleading for Maluku.
The situation in Ambon grows more critical every day. Interviews with individuals that have escaped, as well as phone conversations with local leaders (mostly pastors), reveal a very disturbing picture of the aggression against the Christians in Maluku.Christians are being told if they don't leave they will be killed, yet all escape routes are systematically being cut off. All who do try to escape are being fired upon. A very alarming development is the growing evidence that a lethal gas is being employed against the Christians in Ambon.
The Laskar Jihad command has openly announced through loudspeakers that TNI (Indonesian Army) and Laskar Jihad will exterminate all Christians in Ambon. All inhabitants who wish to survive have been given an ultimatum to leave the city before 31 July 2000. Ships are unable to enter the port area and the small crafts used to ferry those trying to escape are being fired upon. Routes from Christian areas to places where the ships can be met are methodically being cut off. Snipers are shooting at those individuals caught in the open.
The evidence of the TNI involvement is overwhelming. Armored vehicles with heavy automatic weapons (12.7 mm caliber heavy machine guns and cannons) are being used to destroy buildings. Mortars are being used indiscriminately against the general populous. As described by an eyewitness, mortar rounds releasing gasses are being seen in Ambon. This gas has been described as clear and odorless, unlike the smoky and nauseating tear gas, which is also being employed. When an individual comes in contact with this clear and odorless gas, death quickly follows. Convulsions and seizures are noted among those that survive. Many die later. Details are sketchy, but from the description, it appears a lethal gas is being used, perhaps some sort of nerve agent.
Evidence is also mounting that Indonesian Army Special Forces troops are being employed against Christians. The government denies the existence of Special Forces troops in Maluku. The bodies of several dead soldiers have been recovered with uniform markings of Special Forces troops, which have been backed up by the identification cards found on the bodies. It was Special Force soldiers who were suspected of being very much a part of the violence directed against the ethnic Chinese in the 1998 riots.
Photographs of unexploded ordinance have been taken as well as of the victims of the gas attacks. The problem is trying to get the photos out of Ambon.
At the very least, outside observers are needed to verify this information. So far, all allegations are being denied and the government reports that it can control the situation when in fact TNI troops are very much creating much of the aggression against Christians in Maluku.