2006: Three Sulawesi Christians

Add comment September 22nd, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 2006, Catholics Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva were shot in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu for inciting murderous anti-Muslim riots six years before.

The riots in question occurred in Poso, a hotspot of Christian-Muslim conflict that over 1,000 lives from 1999-2001. According to the Jakarta Post (September 25, 2006),

Tibo, Marinus and Dominggus were convicted of leading a Christian militia that carried out a series of attacks in May 2000 in Sulawesi, including a machete and gun assault on an Islamic school where dozens of men were seeking shelter.

Though a 2001 treaty stabilized the situation, tension remained, occasionally flaring into violence.

The 2001 death sentences of Christian activists also remained, a legacy of the open conflict. Small wonder that their execution triggered further unrest, not only in Poso but in Silva’s hometown in predominantly-Christian West Timor. And aftershocks for months to come — the murder a month later of a prominent Christian cleric, for instance — quelled by security forces sweetened with a bit of goodwill rebuilding.

Jakarta ignored international as well as domestic clemency appeals in carrying out the executions, including from the European Union and the the Vatican. The latter’s argument may have been somewhat compromised under the circumstances by Pope Benedict XVI’s impolitic citation just days before of a 14th-century Muslim-bashing text.

Apart from the humanitarian objections, others more specific to the case were raised in vain: that the trio executed had not been witnessed killing anyone personally, and that the sentences were disproportionate to that received by anyone else convicted in that era’s violence.

But such contentions were easily outweighed by the simultaneous progress of the Bali Bombers case, with the imminent likelihood of a triple-execution of Muslim militants … and the prospect of political fallout if only one faith’s martyrs were let off the hook.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Indonesia,Religious Figures,Rioting,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot

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1776: Nathan Hale, with regrets

4 comments September 22nd, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1776, Revolutionary spy Nathan Hale was hanged by the British in Manhattan — allegedly uttering the immortal last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

Nathan Hale statuary (with bound feet and hands) ironically stationed at Washington D.C.’s Department of Justice. Like statues are at the Chicago Tribune building and the Yale University campus; dueling plaques in New York contend to mark the execution spot.

Two years out of Yale when the Revolution broke out in 1775, the Connecticut-born Hale hitched onto the Continental Army and was directly promoted to captain.

When British Gen. William Howe landed at New York in the summer of 1776, Nathan Hale volunteered to slip behind enemy lines and reconnoiter enemy strength for George Washington. It turned out to be his mission into eternity.

As one might suspect, there’s a great deal more to Nathan Hale than his last words — and a fair bit of uncertainty about what his last words really were. Hale’s Wikipedia page retails many versions of the line from many sources.

The sentiment commonly attributed him (formulated in slight variations, e.g., “I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country”) was supposed to have been reported by a British officer attending him; it’s certainly a punchier version than, e.g., a Revolutionary War era report of “I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged, that my only regret is, that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.” Gah.

If all these presumably paraphrased reports have the gist right, it’s possible the 21-year-old recited an identical sentiment in the tragic play Cato:*

How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.

There’s much more about this short-lived character and his larger-than-life transfiguration in mythologia Americana. The Library of Congress has a collection of links, and William Phelps recently penned this new (and surprisingly, first) biography of the revolutionary legend.

* The play was all the rage among patriots; Patrick Henry might have plucked his immortal “give me liberty or give me death” line from it, too. (“It is not now time to talk of aught/But chains or conquest, liberty or death.”)

Part of the Themed Set: Counterrevolution.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,England,Espionage,Execution,Famous,Famous Last Words,Hanged,History,Language,Martyrs,New York,Notable Participants,Occupation and Colonialism,Popular Culture,Power,Revolutionaries,Soldiers,Spies,Summary Executions,USA,Wartime Executions

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