|TOP|The bloody murders were committed in October 2005, and five suspected terrorists were arrested on 5th May 2006 in Tolitoli regency, Central Sulawesi.
The five suspects are: Apriyantono, alias Irwan; Arman, alias Haris; Asrudin, Nano and Abdul Muis, according to The Jakarta Post.
A national police spokesman, Brigadier General Anton Bachrul Alam told reporters, “Two of the arrested men were involved in the murders. Another was detained for carrying ammunition, while the other two were arrested as accessories to the crimes.”
There also another two additional suspects that have not yet been publicly identified, report Compass Direct.
An Associated Press report had previously said two of the seven suspects were associates of Noordin Top, a key leader of the home-grown terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). The police spokesman, however, has since insisted that, “it’s certain they weren’t involved with Noordin.”
|QUOTE|All seven men have confessed to playing a role in the beheadings of the three Christian teenagers, according to Associated Press.
At around 6:30 a.m. on 29th October 2005, the men attacked four girls – Theresia Morangke, aged 15; Alfita Poliwo, 17; Yarni Sambue, 15; and Noviana Malewa, 15 – as they walked to a Christian school in Poso district. The first three girls were beheaded; Noviana Malewa received serious injuries to her face and neck but survived the attack. Noviana was able to survive and describe in detail her attackers to police.
The heads of the three were later found inside plastic bags near a church and a police station, with a warning written on them that another 100 Christian teenagers would be killed, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported.
The men are also suspects in other violent attacks on Christians, including the murder of the Rev Susianty Tinulele, aged 26, who was shot at the Effatah Church in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on 18 July 2004 by a gunman who entered the church wearing a mask.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with 172 million Muslims, compared to just 34 million Christians. The country has seen an increase in violence towards Christians over the past few years, and the country’s media has reported that more than 150 churches have been destroyed or closed down in Jakarta and throughout Java in recent years due to the violence.
|AD|A bill has previously been proposed by lawmakers in the province of Aceh that would impose Shariah on all non-Muslims, the military and police, a local law enforcement official said.
Shariah took effect last year in Aceh, a predominantly Muslim region on Sumatra island, but currently it only applies to Muslims.
Despite the problems, some Christians in Indonesia claim the Church is growing rapidly and is actually 23 percent of the population and not the officially reported 12 percent. However, the promoted figure of 23 percent has been used by Muslim extremists, to claim that Christianity is growing too fast and must be resisted with force.
Eddie Lyle, the CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland said, “Indonesia is far from an island paradise as far as the Christians community is concerned. Freedom of worship should be one of the basic human rights in any democratic nation. What possible threat could peace loving Christians pose, in terms of meeting quietly in their homes to study the Bible, and worship their God?
"We call on the Indonesian government to allow Christians to worship freely, free from intimidation or fear of death. They must not allow this latest bill to go through.
"And we call upon Christians here in the UK & Ireland to fervently pray and to exercise their democratic right to write immediately to their MP, and to see this draconian legislation stopped in its tracks.”
Officially, Indonesia has a democratic government that allows Christians to practice their faith in a number of designated areas. However, Christians in the country have faced rising opposition from Islamic extremists.
In just the past few months more than 25 churches have been forced to close on the island of Java, and permits to build new churches in the region are proving more difficult than ever to receive, report Open Doors.
The Barnabas Fund also has recalled that Rev. Rinaldy Damanik, Moderator for the Central Sulawesi Christian Reform Church and Chairmen of the Central Sulawesi Churches Crisis Co-ordination Centre, was imprisoned for two years simply for trying to bring attention to the anti-Christian violence in Central Sulawesi. He was released in November 2004.
Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a Christian human rights watchdog commented on the beheadings saying, “This is a sickening and horrific attack on innocent schoolgirls. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones in such a brutal attack.”
Barnabas Fund also has called on Christians to pray for the devastated families of the slain Christian girls as well as for the Christian community, that God will give them comfort and peace. Barnabas Fund also urged prayers for 16-year-old Noviana – the sole survivor of last month’s attack – that she can recover soon physically and spiritually.