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‘Murder in Maumere’ little-known story of church failing to shield its flock

Duncan Graham

The Jakarta Post

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Malang, East Java  /  Sun, June 23, 2019  /  05:06 pm
‘Murder in Maumere’ little-known story of church failing to shield its flock

"Postcolonial Citizenship in Provincial Indonesia" by Gerry van Klinken. (Palgrave Macmillan/-)

A few shops in the largely Catholic city of Maumere in East Nusa Tenggara sell religious items. Some are imprinted with mottos, such as "Jesus Engkau Andalanku" (Jesus is My Mainstay). Perhaps the faithful in the East Flores city find comfort with the phrase. However, this was not the case in February 1966. Five months earlier in Jakarta, some 1,700 kilometers to the west, a failed coup against the government of first president Sukarno had been followed by an Army-organized bloodletting; an estimated 500,000 real or imagined communists were slaughtered by militias. The genocide had just about petered out in Java and Bali when orders came to Maumere from the Army in Jakarta listing locals to be arrested. Almost all were Catholic. Instead of demanding their congregations be protected and given fair trials, the clergy helped the Army. Apart from administering...