3,000 Decapitations Reported in Borneo

Revelations of Administrator of Palangkaraya

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JAKARTA, Indonesia, MAR. 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Some 3,000 people in Borneo have been beheaded by the Dayaks, heirs of the terrible headhunters, in retaliation for ethnic violence, according to a missionary´s report.



The revelations were made by Father Willibard Pfeiffer, 61, a Holy Family missionary and diocesan administrator of Palangkaraya. He sent a letter dated March 2 to the Indonesian bishops to inform them of the situation. Fides published the letter Monday.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It is situated between the Philippines and the Island of Java, and has 8.7 million inhabitants. The violence has forced hundreds of thousands of Madurese -- inhabitants of the island of Madura, north of Java -- to flee the massacre.

In his letter, Father Pfeiffer reconstructs the events, which broke out Feb. 17 when the Madurese, enraged by an attack they suffered last December, made a surprise attack on the Dayaks, capturing the city of Sampit, causing six deaths. The Dayaks fled.

After reorganizing, the Dayaks called on the assistance of their people in other parts of the Island, and recaptured Sampit.

"There was no mercy," the missionary reported. "The Madurese who did not manage to escape or happened to pass by were directly murdered. The houses of the Madurese along the road from Sampit to Palangkaraya were torched and ravaged."

"The condition of the refugees is appalling," the missionary reported. "The shelters are too narrow, not enough tents, so many of them have to stay under scorching sun and rains. Six people were reported to have died in the shelters, among them a woman, while giving birth to her baby."

"Diseases also begin to appear, while food is scarce and so is water," Father Pfeiffer added.

The slaughter started in Palangkaraya on Feb. 25. "Fortunately, many Madurese had fled Palangkaraya, but many remained," the missionary´s letter reveals. "We do not know their fate. Many of their houses were gutted. Rumors circulate that after Palangkaraya, the Dayaks are going to attack Pangkalan Bun in the district of West Kotawaringin. Their slogan is ´the Madurese must disappear from Kalimantan,´" the Indonesian part of Borneo.

It would seem the plan is going ahead, as the BBC reported, given the inaction shown by Indonesian authorities. The thousands of soldiers sent to re-establish order in the province have witnessed the killings without lifting a finger. According to the BBC, their only role "has been to protect the close to 200,000 refugees in Sampit from further attacks."