Archived conflict (updated: January 2007)

There were no reports of conflict-related casualties during 2006. This, combined with relative stability and low casualty figures in 2005 (fewer than 25) means that this armed conflict is now considered to have ended.

Type of Conflict
Parties to the Conflict
Status of the Fighting
Number of Deaths
Political Developments
Arms Sources

Economic Factors

The Maluku Islands continued towards relative stability even as several shootings, bombing attacks and small-scale communal clashes resulted in the death of between 10 and 15 people.

2004 A period of relative peace in Maluku ended in April with clashes between Muslim and Christian groups followed by a series of arsons and bombings that killed over 40 people. Tensions remained high for several months although no other major clashes occurred. Many of the over 200,000 displaced persons remain in refugee camps, awaiting repatriation.

2003 The situation in Maluku remained relatively stable through the year with no reported clashes between the Christian and Muslim communities. The stability led the Indonesian government to lift a conflict-induced state of emergency. Over 200,000 internally-displaced people remained in camps throughout the province.

2002 Although parts of Maluku province experienced relative peace, violence continued in Ambon and nearby islands albeit at lower intensity than in 2001. A peace agreement was brokered in February between moderate Muslims and Christians but was breached a few months later when the Laskar Jihad launched attacks on Christians in Ambon.

2001 There was a reduction of violence in 2001, but isolated attacks between Christians and Muslims continued. Hopes of peace and reconciliation were dismissed by radical Muslims who refused to meet Christians for peace talks and threatened moderate Muslims who wanted to participate. The death toll was the lowest since the conflict began.

2000 An upsurge in violence followed the arrival of 2,000 Laskar Jihad members from Java and South Sulawesi. Despite declaring a state of civil emergency in June, the government did not end the violence. Meanwhile, Indonesian soldiers sent to the Molucca islands were reportedly fighting alongside militant Muslims, leading to calls by Christians for a UN peacekeeping force. Most of the fighting took place around the city of Ambon. At least 700 people died, likely fewer than the number killed in 1999.

1999 Fighting between Christians and Muslims broke out in January in Ambon, the capital of Maluku, and quickly spread to many islands in the Indonesian province. Government security forces deployed to dispel the fighting were accused of perpetuating the violence. Over 1,500 people were killed as a result of the conflict and more than 100,000 people were displaced or fled to neighbouring islands.

Type of Conflict:

Failed state

Parties to the Conflict:

1) Government of Indonesia:
Former Army General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, campaigning on economic and security issues, won a Spetember 2004 election by a wide margin to become the President of Indonesia replacing Megawati Sukarnoputri, elected In July 2001. The military created the Joint Battalion (Yon Gab – Batalyon Gabungan), a mobile reserve comprised of elite forces that can be deployed rapidly to conflict zones, but withdrew it in November 2001 due to complaints of brutality. The Yon Gab was replaced by Kopassus, army special forces. In June 2002, the Indonesian government established the Security Restoration Operations Command, a joint police-army security command to provide stability and peace.

[Source: Jane’s Defence Weekly, June 19, 2002]

“Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won by a huge margin, giving him a powerful mandate, which he has promised to use well.” [BBC News, October 9, 2004]

“Partisans on each side have claimed that government security forces were directly supporting their adversaries.” [Human Rights Watch, 7 January 2000]

While fighting occurs between ordinary citizens from the Christian and Muslim communities, the Maluku Sovereignty Front and the Laskar Jihad are organized perpetrators of violence.

2) Christians:
The Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM) and the Republic of South Maluku (RMS) group are the two main Christian groups.

“An Indonesian court has sentenced nine men to prison for up to 15 years for belonging to an outlawed separatist movement in the Maluku islands. … They were members of a group set up by loyalists to Dutch colonial rule. The Republic of South Maluku (RMS) group is mainly a Christian organization, set up in the 1950s and it is not believed to have widespread support on the Maluku Islands.” [BBC News, January 13, 2004]

“[Alex] Manputty leads the Maluku Sovereignty Front, which campaigns for a referendum on self-determination. The group is thought to have about 100 followers.” [BBC News, January 28, 2003]

“The mainly Christian, pro-independence Maluku Sovereignty Front is “a small group banned for its aggressive campaign to achieve independence for the southern part of the Moluccan islands.” [BBC News, April 22, 2002]

“On the Christian side, youth gangs are ready to retaliate if the violence rises.” [International Crisis Group, February 8, 2002]

“Mr. Wattimena, a 54-year-old former civil servant, claims to control between 20,000 and 50,000 Christian fighters on Ambon and surrounding islands that are part of the T-shaped Moluccan chain.” [The Globe and Mail, 8 August 2000]

3) Muslims:
Laskar Jihad, a Muslim paramilitary group.

“The Laskar Jihad is a Java-based Muslim militia blamed for inflaming religious tensions and expanding the scope of fighting by sending thousands of armed militants to the region.” [Jane’s Defence Weekly, February 20, 2002]

“Laskar Jihad’s self-justification for its presence in Ambon depends on continuation of the conflict.” [International Crisis Group, February 8, 2002]

Status of Fighting:

2005 Communal clashes took place in at least one village and in the capital Ambon. A police station in Seram Island was attacked by radical Islamists killing eight people. Shootings and a grenade attacks were also reported predominantly in Ambon.

“An explosion at a market in the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon has injured seven people. Police and officials say the bomb, stored in two cardboard boxes, exploded while being carried by a pedicab at Mardika market. It wounded the driver and six nearby pedestrians.” [Radio Australia, August 25, 2005]

“A clash between rival communities in the eastern Indonesian province of Maluku on Tuesday resulted in the injury of at least 17 people and left several homes burned or damaged, local reports said. The 17 wounded residents were being treated at two different hospitals following clashes between rival residents from three villages on Kei Kecil island on Tuesday morning, the state-run Antara news agency reported.” [Deutsche Presse Agentur, May 3, 2005]

“…a grenade was thrown by two unidentified motorcyclists into the predominantly Muslim neighbourhood of Batumerah, in the Maluku capital Ambon, on March 22.” [Fabio Scarpello, Indonesia Intensifies Fighting against Rebels,]

“In the afternoon of Monday, February 7, a large passenger speedboat was shot at from a smaller speedboat on its route from Ambon to Leksula, on the south coast of the island of Buru. Two passengers were seriously wounded. There happened to be a [navy ship nearby], which immediately answered with gunfire, whereupon the attackers fled in the direction of the nearby little island of Ambelau.” [Crisis Centre Diocese of Amboina, The Situation in Ambon/Moluccas – Report No. 466, February 15, 2005]

2004 A long period of relative peace in the Molucca region of Indonesia was shattered in April when renewed violence between Muslim and Christian groups left over 40 people dead. A series of bombings followed later in the year.

“A volley of gunfire shattered the calm in Ambon on Sunday night, instilling fear once again in residents of the beleaguered city.” [Jakarta Post, August 3, 2004]

“The police have found two bombs in the Maluku capital of Ambon, bringing renewed fear to the city as it struggles to get back to normalcy following disturbances last month.” [Jakarta Post, June 1, 2004]

“Tension was rising in the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon on Monday, with people setting up roadblocks in several parts of the city after bombs wounded five people.” [Agence France Presse, May 24, 2004]

“Religious clashes escalated again in Ambon, Maluku on Friday as arson, gunfire and explosions rocked the battle-scarred city, injuring at least 19 people and paralyzing the provincial administration.” [Jakarta Post, May 1, 2004]

“After two days of bloody clashes, most of the city was calm. Hundreds of residents have fled their homes and others huddled behind barricades in segregated neighbourhoods as police and troops patrolled with automatic weapons.” [Agence France Presse, April 27, 2004]

“At least eight people were injured in a clash between two rival villages in Central Maluku regency on Maluku Islands, where some 6,000 people were killed in sectarian fighting from 1999 to 2001.” [Jakarta Post, February 6, 2004]

2003 There were no reported incidents of violence between Christian and Muslim militants in the province. However, rioting in North Maluku in June was indicative of the province’s ongoing instability from several years of conflict.

“Maluku governor Karel Albert Ralahalu called on Maluku residents on Saturday to surrender their weapons – including guns and home-made bombs – to security personnel on the grounds that the situation in Maluku had returned to normal. He added that it was useless to own weapons in Maluku, as security had been restored in the formerly riot-torn island. … The conflict died down completely this year, and the central government declared on Sept. 15 that the state of emergency had been lifted in Maluku.” [The Jakarta Post, October 13, 2003]

“The Associated Press reported that thousands of Muslim refugees burned motorbikes and threatened to torch a government office Monday in the North Maluku capital. … The rioting marked a new direction for the frustrations of the refugees, who fled Halmahera after attacks by Christian communities commencing in 1999.” [ courtesy of ReliefWeb, June 30, 2003]

2002 North Maluku and the southeast part of Maluku province enjoyed relative peace while in Ambon and surrounding islands the Liskar Jihad attacked Christians, inciting riots and reprisal attacks. The Indonesian government claimed to step up security efforts but police and military forces were accused of exacerbating tensions by failing to provide security or directly contributing to violence.

“In North Maluku return to ‘normalcy’ is much more advanced, partly because the Muslim majority is too large to feel threatened politically.” [International Crisis Group, February 8, 2002]

“A fragile peace had descended here after an accord was signed Feb.12. But it was shattered yesterday after a bomb blast outside a Christian hotel in Ambon that killed four people and injured 43.” [The Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 2002]

“There is still widespread suspicion of Army and police personnel, who have reportedly participated in fighting and aided local Muslim and Christian gangs.” [The Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 2002]

2001 The level of violence of the previous two years was reduced in 2001, but isolated attacks against both Christians and Muslims continued. There were also reports of attacks against government security forces.

“Troops are patrolling the streets of the Indonesian city of Ambon, on the Maluccan Islands, following violent protests by Christian residents. The riots were triggered by the death of at least seven people in an explosion on a boat carrying mainly Christian passengers. It is unclear what caused the blast, but many in the Christian community have blamed Muslims for the incident.” [BBC, December 12, 2001]

“At least ten people died in an exchange of fire between security forces and attackers, which lasted for several hours. Reports say the attackers had been angered by the deaths of fellow Muslims.” [BBC, January 24, 2001]

2000 An upsurge in violence in recent months followed the arrival of 2,000 Laskar Jihad members (a militant Moslem force determined to join the ‘holy war’ against the Christians on the island) from Java and South Sulawesi. Despite declaring a state of civil emergency on 27 June, the government did not end the violence. Meanwhile, reports indicated that Indonesian soldiers sent to the Molucca Islands were fighting alongside militant Muslims, leading to calls by the Christians for a neutral UN peacekeeping force. Most of the fighting took place around the city of Ambon.

[Sources: Jane’s Defence Weekly, 19 July 2000; Action By Churches Together, 11 August 2000; The Guardian Weekly, 20-26 July 2000; The Guardian Weekly, 13-19 July 2000]

“The most recent outburst of violence in North Halmahera has resulted in a large number (estimated at about 100,000) of persons fleeing their homes (some went to Manado in North Sulawesi and some went to the jungles and mountains in Halmahera).” [Action By Churches Together, 11 August 2000]

“In the face of the Muslims’ better co-ordination, and signs that the Indonesian armed forces aided (or at least not prevented) Muslim attacks, the Christian forces seem in disarray and have lost ground on all fronts.” [The Globe and Mail, 8 August 2000]

“Independent television footage has proved for the first time that there have been numerous instances of soldiers, marines and police taking sides and even shooting at colleagues who support the other side.” [The Guardian Weekly, 13-19 January 2000]

1999 Clashes between Christians and Muslims occurred intermittently throughout the year, intensifying in July and August. The Indonesian government sent hundreds of extra police and security troops to the islands in an attempt to dispel the fighting and mob violence. Various reports suggest these forces used Aunwarranted lethal force@ and claim external instigators perpetuated the violence. In November the Indonesian government considered declaring a state of civil emergency in Ambon in response to the suggestion that some military officers had taken sides in the religious clashes in the area. The burning of many Christian and Muslim houses, buildings and places of worship throughout the year perpetuated much of the fighting.

[Sources: Reuters, 30 November 1999, 6 January 2000; Human Rights Watch, 7 January 2000; Globe and Mail, 3 February 2000]

Number of Deaths:

Total: Estimates of total conflict deaths range from 5,000 to 10,000.

[Sources: International Crisis Group, February 8, 2002; The Jakarta Post, January 17, 2002]

“At least 5,000 people (perhaps as many as 10,000) have been killed and close to 700,000 – almost one-third of the population of 2.1 million – became refugees.” [International Crisis Group, February 8, 2002]

2005 Between 10 and 15 people were reported killed in several shooting incidents and a deadly raid on a police station. Dozens of injuries were reported after communal clashes.

“Violence escalated on this eastern island chain after radical Islamists and unruly members of the police led a punitive expedition against a police barrack on Seram Island on May 16. The attack, which left eight people dead, was meant to punish officers perceived to be protecting a Christian village.” [Fabio Scarpello, Indonesia Intensifies Fighting against Rebels,]

“Gunmen shot dead two people in an attack overnight on a karaoke club in the sectarian violence-plagued city of Ambon in eastern Indonesia, police and a witness said Tuesday…Maluku province Police Chief Brigadier General Adityawarman told journalists here that he believed the latest attack may have been linked to an incident three days earlier in which a Muslim man was killed.” [Agence-France Presse, February 15, 2005]

“At 1 a.m. today a speedboat approached the shore at Wailete, between the villages of Wayame and Hative Besar and took a Karaoke building under fire. Two people were killed, two were wounded. As the fire could be answered by revolver fire, the attackers withdrew.” [Crisis Centre Diocese of Amboina, The Situation in Ambon/Moluccas – Report No. 466, February 15, 2005]

2004 Clashes in April followed by a series of arsons and bombings left over 40 people dead and hundreds injured.

“A bomb killed one person and injured 13 people in the Christian sector of Indonesia’s Ambon city on Tuesday and police defused another device planted near a church.” [Agence France Presse, May 25, 2004]

“Provincial police spokesman Hendro Prasetyo said an 11-month-old baby and a 38-year-old Christian man, who was shot six times in the chest, died in the attack which occurred at about 6 a.m. Wednesday.” [Jakarta Post, May 7, 2004]

“Tension gripped the Indonesian city of Ambon on Wednesday after a church and homes were torched overnight, as the death toll from four days of clashes between Muslims and Christians rose to 36.” [Reuters, April 28, 2004]

“One tribesman on the North Maluku island of Halmahera was shot dead and four others were injured when paramilitary Mobile Brigade police opened fire to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding the closure of an open pit mine operated by an Australian firm, police said on Thursday.” [Jakarta Post, January 9, 2004]

2003 There were no reported conflict-related deaths this year. However, over 200,000 internally-displaced people remained in refugee camps in 2003 as a result of the conflict.

“More than 202,000 people … continue to languish in Maluku refugee camps more than four years after fighting between Muslims and Christians first broke out, officials say.” [The Jakarta Post, July 21, 2003]

2002 Exact figures on numbers of deaths were not available. A collection of media reports suggested that between 30 and 50 people were killed by November mainly on the island of Ambon.

“Indonesia’s military said on Monday it wants martial law imposed on the Moluccan islands after at least 12 people were killed in weekend attacks that raised fresh doubts about a fragile peace pact in the troubled region.” [Asia-Reuters, April 29, 2002]

“Rioting has broken out in Indonesia’s Moluccas islands following the reported killing of three women in the religiously-divided region. Mobs took to the streets in a predominantly-Muslim quarter of the regional capital, Ambon, and torched a van carrying Christians – one person was burnt to death, police said.” [BBC News, September 8, 2002]

2001 The death toll for 2001 was much lower than the previous two years. Published media reports list at least 40 dead, and at least one source cites over 100 deaths, three quarters of them civilian.

[Record Chronology of Violence Events in Ambon/Maluku Year of 2001,]

“In the last bout of clashes, gunmen shot dead nine Christians in the violence-torn city of Ambon in the Maluccas.” [CNN, December 20, 2001]

2000 At least 700 people died this year, with one report indicating “thousands” of deaths.

“This year, thousands have died in clashes in Maluku, in militia attacks supported by elements of the Indonesian military.” [The Guardian, 23 August 2000]

“Four days of fighting between Muslims and Christians have left 250 people dead in Ambon, the capital of Indonesia’s Maluku province…” [Electronic Telegraph, 19 January 2000]

“Renewed violent communal clashes have erupted in Indonesia’s eastern Moluccas, or Spice Islands, killing 114 people and seriously wounding 70…” [Reuters, 20 June 2000]

“…208 Christian villagers taking refuge in a church had been slaughtered by Muslims who call themselves the Laskar Jihad, or holy warriors.” [The Sunday Times, 13 August 2000]

1999 1,500 with at least one report suggesting more than 4,000.

Political Developments:

2005 There were no major political developments reported. Tensions remained high as several acts of violence occurred during the year but generally it appeared that a situation of normalcy was returning to the Maluku islands.

2004 Members of the FKM rebel group were tried and convicted of treason and blamed for sniper attacks, setting off violent protests. At least one monitoring group remained skeptical of the verdict, noting that the FKM is not known to have weapons or personnel capable of such an attack. Both the European Union and Japan announced new funds to help displaced persons and refugees. Former Army General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won the September Indonesian presidential election by a wide margin.

“Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won by a huge margin, giving him a powerful mandate, which he has promised to use well.” [BBC News, October 9, 2004]

“Seventeen more activists of the Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM) went on trial in the Ambon District Court on Tuesday on treason charges over a separatist rally in April that sparked renewed violence.” [Jakarta Post, July 28, 2004]

“Even if the police arrest every member of the FKM (Maluku Sovereignty Front) … the question of who was responsible for the killings will remain unanswered,” said a new report issued by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group on Monday said…‘It is the snipers, more than a short-sighted police force or a small group of rowdy but unarmed separatists, who have mostly undermined peace in Ambon,’ the report said.” [Jakarta Post, May 19, 2004]

“A meeting of Christian and Muslim leaders and National Police chief Gen. Da’i Bachtiar ended in disarray here on Monday, after conflicting parties failed to reach an agreement to cease the renewed clashes in Ambon, Maluku.” [Jakarta Post, May 4, 2004]

“The Ambon District Court sentenced nine activists of the separatist South Maluku Republic (RMS) group on Monday to between 30 months and 15 years in jail for treason.” [Jakarta Post, January 13, 2004]

2003 The relative calm of the province allowed the Indonesian government to revoke the state of emergency status imposed on Maluku in 2000. Several leaders of both the Christian and Muslim groups that had engaged in the violence over the last several years were tried and imprisoned for their role in the conflict.

“Indonesia on Monday revoked a three-year state of emergency in the eastern Maluku islands, where clashes between Muslims and Christians have left more than 5,000 people dead. Home Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno announced the end of the emergency during the inauguration of the new governor of Maluku province, Karel Albert Ralahalu, in the city of Ambon.” [Agence France Presse, September 15, 2003]

“Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has issued a decree lifting a state of emergency in North Maluku province, once the scene of bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians.” [Agence France Presse, May 21, 2003]

“Two Christian leaders have been sentenced to three years in jail by an Indonesian court for subversion in the country’s restive Moluccan islands. Alex Manputty [leader of the Maluku Sovereignty Front] … and Samuel Waileruny … were on trial … for campaigning for an independent state in the Moluccans. … A Muslim leader in the province, Ja’afar Umar Thalib, is due to be sentenced by another Jakarta court on Thursday for inciting violence on the islands.” [BBC News, January 28, 2003]

2002 Following talks between the Muslim and Christian communities, a peace accord signed in February called for the creation of two joint commissions to deal with security and socio-economic affairs, for both sides to disarm, and for “outsiders that bring chaos” (a reference to Laskar Jihad) to leave the province. The peace accords were rejected by the Laskar Jihad which promised to disrupt the peace process and launched attacks on Christians in May. Some analysts suggested that peace remained elusive because Muslims lacked confidence in the government’s security forces and relied on the Laskar Jihad for security. In contrast, Christian leaders repeatedly accused the Indonesian army of providing military and political support to the Laskar Jihad.

“A government-sponsored ceasefire accord, called the Malino Agreement and signed last February, brought a few months of peace before armed militants attacked a village near Ambon in May. That attack, reportedly by the Muslim Laskar Jihad group, killed more than a dozen civilians and led to the arrest of Laskar Jihad’s leader.” [Jane’s Defence Weekly, June 19, 2002]

“Jafar Umar Thalib [leader of Laskar Jihad] called on all Muslims in the Moluccan Islands to launch a renewed war against the Christian community, saying the peace agreement should be ignored.” [BBC News, April 8, 2002]

2001 The Indonesian army initiated an investigation into allegations that police and army personnel were involved in the violence between Christians and Muslims. Reconciliation efforts were also hampered by radical Muslims who refused to meet with Christian representatives, and threatened moderate Muslims working towards peace.

“The Indonesian Army says it is sending a fact-finding team to the troubled Moluccas Islands to investigate the alleged involvement of security personnel in violence between Muslims and Christians. Fourteen police and army personnel have reportedly been arrested for suspected involvement in an attack by a Muslim mob on a security post in the city of Ambon.” [BBC, January 24, 2001]

“Reconciliation in the Maluccas is hampered by radical Muslims who vehemently oppose moderate Muslims seeking to foster peace with Christians. ‘The radical Muslims are very anti-reconciliation,’ said Malik Selang, a moderate Muslim forced to leave his home following attacks by ‘radicals’. ‘They (radicals) have broadcast on their radio service that, ‘Those who carry out reconciliation must be killed,’ he added.” [CNN, July 10, 2001]

2000 There were reports that much of the violence erupting throughout Indonesia was provoked by the Indonesian military in an attempt to undermine President Aburrahman Wahid’s democratically-elected government. Although the government declared a state of civil emergency in the Moluccas in response to the upsurge in violence, the conflict continued with victims neglected by authorities. The Wahid government rejected calls by the Christians for an international peacekeeping force.

[Sources: Independent, 18 January 2000; Action by Churches Together, 11 August 2000; InterPress Service, 12 July 2000]

1999 Christian and Muslim religious leaders met in March to discuss peace in an effort to end the violence. The government was accused of doing little to stop the fighting between the religious groups.


Fighting in the eastern Indonesian province of Maluku, also known as the Molucca or Spice islands, began in January 1999 in the capital, Ambon, reportedly following a traffic dispute between a Christian and a Muslim, and spread to surrounding islands. Christians and Muslims have coexisted peacefully in the islands for decades, and religion is unlikely to be the underlying cause of the conflict. The recent economic crisis, unequal distribution of wealth, the decline of traditional authority structures, an increase in migration, the perceived Islamization of the Indonesian government and civil service, and the outbreak of communal violence in other parts of the country since the fall of President Suharto in May 1998 all have contributed to rising social tension between the two groups. A Human Rights Watch report released in 2000 suggests that sectarian violence in the area has been stoked by misinformation and conspiracy theories. The same report argues that the tendency of both Indonesian and international reporters to quote sources and losses from only one side of the conflict has fuelled communal tensions. In February 2002, a peace accord was signed by representatives of both the Christian and Muslim communities but was breached a few months later when the Laskar Jihad launched attacks on Christians in Ambon, sparking a series of reprisal attacks.

“While the violence in the Spice Islands is seen as less threatening to Indonesia’s territorial unity, it highlights the religious and ethnic tensions that make the vast country too volatile and potentially unstable.” [Reuters, 29 November 1999]

Since the beginning of the conflict “…approximately 18,311 homes have been burned and 1,096 public buildings, including houses of worship, have been destroyed. It is estimated that approximately 450,000 people have become internally displaced in the provinces of Maluku, North Maluku, South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi and South Sulawesi and NTT.” [Action by Churches Together, 11 August 2000]

[Additional Sources: Reuters, 3, 6 January 2000; Human Rights Watch, 7 January 2000]

Arms Sources:

Indonesia’s recent military suppliers include the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, France, Russia, the
Netherlands, South Korea, Slovakia, and Singapore. Indonesia also draws on domestic arms production. The US and the EU suspended arms transfers in 1999 due to the horrific human rights record of the Indonesian military. The EU did not renew the arms embargo when it expired on January 17, 2000. In spite of the arms embargo, in August 2002 the US offered a US $50 million anti-terrorism package to Indonesia that includes police training, exchanges for high-level military personnel, and the establishment of an anti-terrorism unit. In 2005, the US re-established full military ties with Indonesia.

Both Christians and Muslims in the Moluccas claim to have access to manufactured firearms, some of which have been acquired from sympathetic government troops, but most of the fighting between the two groups has been conducted with homemade weapons.

[Sources: SIPRI Yearbook 2002 to 2005; The Military Balance 2000-2001 to 2004-2005; BBC News, July 12, 2002]

“Indonesia plans to buy Hercules planes from the United States as early as January following the resumption of full military ties with Washington…The US restored military ties and lifted an arms embargo…as a reward for Jakarta’s cooperation in the war on terrorism.” [The Daily Times, November 26, 2005]

“During Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s visit to Moscow in April 2003, the two countries signed a $193m contract under which Russia will supply Indonesia with two Su-27SK and two Su-30MK aircraft and two Mi-35 helicopters.” [The Military Balance 2003-2004, p. 298]

“The US Congress has again blocked military aid to Indonesia despite the Bush Administration wanting to draw the Indonesian Army into the ‘war on terror’….The US Senate unanimously approved a measure to cut $US400,000 ($570,000) in military training assistance next year in an effort to force the Indonesian Government to fully co-operate in the investigation into the murder of two American teachers in Indonesia’s eastern-most province, Papua, last year.” [Sydney Morning Herald, October 31, 2003]

“Laskar Jihad also handed over hundreds of weapons including daggers, machetes, guns and homemade bombs.” [BBC News, June 11, 2002]

“There are claims that some [government] soldiers have supplied weapons and bullets to combatants on the side they happen to favor.” [Human Rights Watch, 7 January 2000]

“Although both sides claim to have some limited access to manufactured firearms, known locally as ‘organics,’ most of the fighting has been conducted with home-made guns or rakitan.” [The Globe and Mail, 3 February 2000]

Economic Factors:

Some analysts suggest that elements of the Indonesian security forces profit from continued unrest in the province.

“Local speculation suggests that some elements in the security forces tolerate, or even support, a low level of continuing violence in order to induce property-owners to pay protection money. Continuing emergency conditions also give security personnel other lucrative opportunities.” [International Crisis Group, February 8, 2002]

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