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Indonesians request asylum at Swiss embassy

Christians take up positions during clashes with Muslims in the Moluccas last month


Six Indonesians have applied for political asylum at the Swiss embassy in Jakarta, after breaking into the compound last week. They are Christians fleeing sectarian violence in the Moluccas Islands.

Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman, Monika Schmutz, said on Monday that the youths, who have been camped out in the embassy grounds since last Wednesday, had all applied for asylum.

Schmutz said one had lodged an application on Friday, and the other five had followed suit over the weekend.

The five men and one woman said they had occupied the embassy grounds in an effort to bring the religious violence in the Moluccas to world attention.

Last week, a foreign ministry spokeswoman was quoted as saying that they had threatened to set themselves on fire unless they were listened to.

Three months ago, the Indonesian authorities declared a state of emergency in the Moluccas. They are trying to end the violence between Christians and Muslims, which has left over 4,000 dead and displaced more than half a million people since January 1998.

swissinfo with agencies

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