Certain parties might have intentionally provoked residents in Ambon, Maluku, prior to the recent deadly riot in the provincial capital city which claimed seven lives and left 65 others injured, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) Ifdhal Kasim said on Monday.
“Our team was deployed to Ambon and has just finished its one-week investigation. Our preliminary findings show that the riot might have erupted due to provocation by certain parties,” Ifdhal told The Jakarta Post in the sidelines of a seminar in Jakarta.
The fatal clash, which also saw around 200 buildings damaged, broke out on Sept. 11 after text message rumors spread that a Muslim ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver, who had been killed in a road accident, was actually tortured to death by a Christian group.
“The rumor was false, as we have interviewed the forensic doctor who conducted the autopsy on the ojek driver’s body. The doctor told us that the man had been killed in a road accident … no indications of torture,” Ifdhal said.
The police previously said that the text message had also been spread to some cities in Java, such as Surabaya and Surakarta.
The Komnas HAM has yet to conclude who was the mastermind of the riot and whether it was politically motivated or not. “Our investigation is still ongoing,” Ifdhal said.
He added that the commission had also been concerned over the police’s poor efforts to respond and prevent the clash from becoming deadly.
The Komnas HAM, he said, would find out if the police’s inability to overcome the riot was due to the force’s lack of personnel and resources or deliberate ignorance.
Ambon was swept by Muslim-Christian conflict between 1999 and 2002, when thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced throughout the Maluku Islands.