A Village in Maluku

Aug 2nd, 2006, in News, by

Waai village in central Maluku, destroyed in the sectarian war of 2001, rebuilds.

Waii village was predominantly populated by Christians and was totally devastated in fighting in 2001, by residents of the nearby Muslim towns of Tulehu and Liang, without a single building being left standing. More than 9,000 people were forced to flee across the mountains, taking refuge in nearby villages such as Suli and Passo.

Now, years later, villagers from Waai mingled with their neighbours from Tulehu and Liang to mark the rebuilding of a Catholic church on the spot where the church once stood. Thousands of residents from different religious backgrounds and different villages gathered together in Waai last Sunday, the Jakarta Post reports.

The Catholic congregation from the Passo parish in Waai are now soon to achieve their dream of rebuilding their church. The cornerstone was laid by Archbishop S. Wesoly and Bishop Stefan Wylesek from the John Paul II Vatican Foundation. Amboina Bishop P.C. Mandagi and Maluku Protestant Church (GPM) head synod Reverend John Puhulessin, as well as raja traditional village chiefs, also attended the ceremony.

The arrival of the guests took place in an atmosphere filled with a spirit of reconciliation, it was said. Thirteen Tulehu youths performed the cakalele dance to greet the guests at the mouth of the river which borders Tulehu and Waai, ushering them into Waai.

The Waai GPM band and the whole congregation greeted the entourage with gospel songs, accompanied by the lenso dance performed by Waai girls. A sense of harmony was evident from the number of women wearing Muslim headscarves and men with turbans involved as committee members in the church construction.

Bishop Mandagi said that the church would be named the Johanes Paulus II chapel. He expressed joy over an atmosphere totally different from the one during the conflict. He added that not just Catholics suffered in the conflict, but also Muslims and Protestants.

I’m happy because Tulehu Muslims and Waai Protestants have warmly greeted us. Now is not the time for war, but for love and peace.

The head of the Maluku Supervisory Board, J. Pattinama, representing the governor of Maluku, praised the local people’s respect for pluralism and expressed hope that it could become a basis for development in Maluku.

Archbishop Wesoly also was moved to praising the interfaith tolerance displayed in the effort to rebuild the church. He expressed happiness at the warm welcome from Muslim and Protestant residents.

Tulehu village head John Ohorella said that the conflict between his residents and those of Waai was a thing of the past, and that harmony and peace were the main components of the effort to rebuild Maluku, especially the two neighbouring villages.

See also an interview with Dr Richard Chauvel, an Ambon expert at Victoria University, Australia, on the re-building of the church in Waai.

2 Comments on “A Village in Maluku”

  1. O. Bule says:

    I’m glad that they seem to be putting things back together again, but what caused the stupid interfaith murder and destruction in the first place? Until Indonesians figure that out, and take steps to root out the cause of this kind of thing, then all that’s been done is to temporarily restore peace before the next insane outburst.

    O. Bule

  2. Ronald says:

    keep going on my fellow Indonesians in Maluku. Keep praying and being humble. That’s the only way to keep peace.

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