Despite the official peace agreement and apparent calm in Maluku, violence has continued to bubble beneath the surface of the province over the past eight years, a World Bank official said on Wednesday.
However, Patrick Barron, a World Bank’s social development specialist, said the root causes of the violence and its effects had evolved since the religious conflict that broke out in 1999.
Barron said that while violence rose from 150 recorded events in 2000 to 300 in 2008, deaths over the same eight-year period fell from 400 to just over 50.
“A similar trend was found in North Maluku,” he said. “The number of violent incidents went up from around 25 in 2000 to above 90 in 2008, with the number of deaths remaining below 10.”
Barron was speaking at a preliminary public presentation of a World Bank report on conflict in Maluku and North Maluku.
According to the report, the two major issues behind the violence and deaths from 2000 to 2008 were group identity and popular justice.
The report, however, shows the underlying causes behind the violence also changed over the eight years studies.
Sana Jaffrey, a political scientist from the University of Michigan, in the United States, said that group identity included religious and ethnic conflicts, and was a factor in 33 percent of the deaths.
“Yet most of these deaths occurred between 2001 and 2002, still a lingering part of the 1999 breakout conflict between Muslims and Christians in Maluku and North Maluku,” she said.
Jaffrey said popular justice — which included deaths resulting from taking offense, vigilante reactions to theft, sexual indiscretions and assault — accounted for almost 50 percent of the violence and 25 percent of the deaths.
“Even insults or brawls after football matches often resulted in deaths,” she said.
The report suggests that religious and ethnic conflict has softened in recent years but that violence is still seen as a way of solving problems.
The religious conflict in Maluku and North Maluku broke out in 1999 between Muslims and Christians, killing thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands of others.
Houses of worships were destroyed, and the conflict continued for several years.