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16-year-old victim of forced circumcision speaks out

1 Jun 2001

My circumcision was done without any medical preparation. After I regained consciousness I felt such pain and blood kept flowing. I suffered for two weeks.'

A 16-year-old Christian boy has been describing his terrifying forced conversion and circumcision in the Moluccas Islands of Indonesia. Berthy Leinussa said it began with an attack by Islamists on the village of Liliama on Seram Island.

The people fled to the jungle. But the following day the attackers burned down their houses and came after them. We finally found a place to hide on the top of a hill where there was a cave,' said Berthy. All we could eat were rattan shoots and young bamboo roots and we drank from the water next to the shelter.' They remained there for a week until they were discovered by 15 Jihad warriors armed with machetes, spears and bombs, who told the villagers they would not be harmed. It was a lie.

Berthy and the others were escorted to a Muslim village where Indonesian troops were waiting for them. All their belongings were confiscated and they were registered by the soldiers. Then they were forced to change their religion by signing a statement that they had turned from Christianity to Islam.
After a ritual purification, they were brought before the Imam and taught to say the sahadat (Moslem creed).

Later, they were made to attend mass circumcision ceremonies carried out on men and women. Berthy recalls: My circumcision was done without any medical preparation. I was ordered to unzip my trousers and I was cut. I cannot tell what happened next, because I lost consciousness. After I regained consciousness I felt such pain and blood kept flowing.' He was given some medicine by the troops and bandaged. Three days later we were ordered to take a bath in the sea so that the wound would heal quickly. I suffered for two weeks.'

Next they were escorted to the mosque where the Muslim religious leader said, You have now returned to the right path and abandoned the wayward road.'
But after a few days they were told that all the former Christians would be killed to avenge the deaths of Muslims who had died during the jihad. Berthy and 18 others fled once again to the jungle, and eventually made it to safety.



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