Où est Dieu? cria-t-il, je vais vous le dire! Nous l’avons tué – vous et moi! Nous tous sommes ses meurtriers! Mais comment avons-nous fait cela? Comment avons-nous pu vider la mer? Qui nous a donné l’éponge pour effacer l’horizon tout entier? Dieu est mort! (…) Et c’est nous qui l’avons tué ! (…) Ce que le monde avait possédé jusqu’alors de plus sacré et de plus puissant a perdu son sang sous nos couteaux (…) Quelles solennités expiatoires, quels jeux sacrés nous faudra-t-il inventer? Nietzsche
Alors que la pression de la communauté internationale se faisait de plus en plus forte en Indonésie afin de mettre fin à la montée des violences au Timor oriental, les analystes demeuraient perplexes face à deux questions fondamentales: qui est en train d’orchestrer ce carnage et pourquoi. Seth Mydals (NYT, le 8 septembre 1999)
On apprend aux enfants qu’on a cessé de chasser les sorcières parce que la science s’est imposée aux hommes. Alors que c’est le contraire: la science s’est imposée aux hommes parce que, pour des raisons morales, religieuses, on a cessé de chasser les sorcières. René Girard
Le christianisme (…) nous a fait passer de l’archaïsme à la modernité, en nous aidant à canaliser la violence autrement que par la mort.(…) En faisant d’un supplicié son Dieu, le christianisme va dénoncer le caractère inacceptable du sacrifice. Le Christ, fils de Dieu, innocent par essence, n’a-t-il pas dit – avec les prophètes juifs : « Je veux la miséricorde et non le sacrifice » ? En échange, il a promis le royaume de Dieu qui doit inaugurer l’ère de la réconciliation et la fin de la violence. La Passion inaugure ainsi un ordre inédit qui fonde les droits de l’homme, absolument inaliénables. (…) l’islam (…) ne supporte pas l’idée d’un Dieu crucifié, et donc le sacrifice ultime. Il prône la violence au nom de la guerre sainte et certains de ses fidèles recherchent le martyre en son nom. Archaïque ? Peut-être, mais l’est-il plus que notre société moderne hostile aux rites et de plus en plus soumise à la violence ? Jésus a-t-il échoué ? L’humanité a conservé de nombreux mécanismes sacrificiels. Il lui faut toujours tuer pour fonder, détruire pour créer, ce qui explique pour une part les génocides, les goulags et les holocaustes, le recours à l’arme nucléaire, et aujourd’hui le terrorisme. René Girard
Le rejet de cet animal et tous les interdits qui l’accompagnent ne seraient-ils pas nés le jour où l’homme a découvert que la chair du cochon avait la même saveur que la chair humaine? Michel Pastoureau
Le massacre de sorcières dans la région remonte à des siècles, depuis au moins la colonisation néerlandaise des îles qui sont par la suite devenues l’Indonésie. Bien que légalement injustifiable, le massacre de sorcières a longtemps servi de mécanisme aux villages ruraux pour expulser les comportements antisociaux. TU Bagus Ronny Nitibaskara (anthropologue, université d’Indonésie)
Il existe peu de sources historiques sur les massacres et une controverse autour de l’idée répandue selon laquelle ils ont supplanté les rituels de sacrifice humain qu’on y célébrait avant que les Espagnols n’apportent leurs chèvres et leurs guildes de gardiens de bestiaux dans le Nouveau Monde. Cependant, regarder les massacres comme une façon d’obtenir de la viande de chèvre serait méconnaitre l’intensité et le symbolisme de ce qui a lieu. Tim Golden (NYT)
C’est un travail dur de tuer une sorcière, il faut se répéter sans cesse qu’elles sont méchantes et que tu es en train de protéger des gens innocents contre leurs malédictions et leurs sorts. Chasseur de sorcières indonésien
L’éthique de la victime innocente remporte un succès si triomphal aujourd’hui dans les cultures qui sont tombées sous l’influence chrétienne que les actes de persécution ne peuvent être justifiés que par cette éthique, et même les chasseurs de sorcières indonésiens y ont aujourd’hui recours. La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
Quand l’anthropologie devient folle ...
A l’heure où nos athées de service n’ont pas de mots assez durs pour fustiger l’unique source de tous nos maux …
Et où de pauvres Indiens se font arrêter en plein Brésil pour avoir simplement voulu pratiquer l’une de leurs coutumes ancestrales …
Retour sur d’autres exemples récents de l’impérialisme culturel occidental tentant d’imposer ses valeurs à la planète entière.
Comme ces bons musulmans de Java qui se voient progressivement privés d’une longue tradition (en fait un simple « mécanisme servant à expulser les comportements antisociaux ») remontant à plusieurs siècles (« depuis au moins la colonisation néerlandaise », précise l’anthropologue TU Bagus Ronny Nitibaskara) et contraints à une longue préparation psychologique …
Ou ces pauvres villageois de Tehuacan qui, ployant sous les inspections, les frais de transport et les taxes, en oublient leurs pas de danse et se voient à présent contraints d’immoler leurs chèvres à coup de pistolets pour bétail …
Amazon Indians accused of cannibalizing farmer
Helena de Moura
February 9, 2009
(CNN) — A city official in the remote Brazilian Amazon village of Envira told CNN that five members of the Kulina tribe are on the run after being accused of murdering, butchering and eating a farmer in a ritual act of cannibalism.
The village’s chief of staff, Maronilton da Silva Clementino, said Kulina tribesmen took the life of Ocelio Alves de Carvalho, 19, last week on the outskirts of Envira, which is in the far western part of Brazil that bumps up against Peru.
Portal Amazonia newspaper reported that the Indians escaped after being held for a few hours in the city’s police station.
No arrest warrants were issued. Brazilian law does not allow the military or civil police to enter Indian lands, Portal Amazonia reported.
It is still unknown how many people took part in the alleged cannibalistic ritual, although several Indians have fled into the jungle fearing prosecution, the newspaper Diario do Amazonas reported.
Clementino said the victim was herding cattle when he met with a group of Indians who invited him back to their village.
« They knew each other and they sometimes helped one another. They invited him to their reservation three days ago and he was never seen again, » Clementino said.
« The family decided to go into the reservation and that’s when they saw his body quartered and his skull hanging on a tree. It was very tragic for the family, » he said.
The news of the incident came from the Indians themselves, who apparently bragged about eating the man’s organs, Clementino said.
Members of the tribe told residents of Envira — where 190 Kulina families brush shoulders with non-tribal Brazilians — that they held a cannibalistic ritual in which they cooked the victim’s organs, Clementino said.
He said Kulina Indians began surrounding the police station where the suspects were briefly interrogated.
Villagers told authorities they are incensed by the lack of response from FUNAI, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation.
« The family is very frustrated with the law here, which protects the Indians and doesn’t help protect us, » he said. « They start drinking and local farmers here are afraid who could be next. »
Clementino said groups Indians — often outnumbering police — pose a security threat to locals.
He said the man’s family are upset that authorities did not arrive until three days later. But a FUNAI official told the newspaper Voz do Acre that access to Envira is very difficult, requiring long boat or helicopter rides.
According to FUNAI, about 2,500 Kulina live in Brazil’s Acre state, which borders with Peru, where 450 Kulina live. This remote jungle corridor is known for its isolated tribes.
The Kulina are classified as an « isolated » tribe but some have contact with the non-indian population.
The Kulina are also known for their complex language. FUNAI studies show that Kulina women speak a completely different language from the men.
According to FUNAI, there are 460,000 Indians in Brazil and 1,300 indian languages. There are 55 groups considered to live in isolation.
Witch Hunts in Java Called a Cover for Murders
January 2, 2001
In this verdant farm belt of West Java, where sorcery and superstition have deep roots, few were surprised last September when an angry mob decapitated a 70-year-old woman accused of casting spells that made people ill. Before lopping off her head, witnesses said, the crowd gouged out her eyes and severed some of her limbs, which they tossed into the street.
Beheadings of suspected witches are not uncommon in rural towns and villages of Java, Indonesia’s most populous and perhaps most mystical island. The local police estimate that there were at least 100 witch killings in Java last year. Still, few people seemed upset by the killings, which typically occur in Indonesia’s backwaters and are committed under the guise of wiping out evil.
But indifference to the killings may now be changing after 21 people accused of practicing black magic were beheaded or chopped to death between July and October in one district alone — Cianjur, about 60 miles south of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. Because of the high concentration of witch murders in one area, the police suspected that there was more to the killings than just fear of sorcery.
This month, the police announced the arrest of 28 suspects linked to the killings, which they said were driven less by fear of evil forces than by personal gain. In most cases, the police said, the suspects had falsely accused the victims of practicing witchcraft and then either killed them or incited or paid others to do so. Their motives were mainly revenge, rivalry and extortion, although some of the suspects may have indeed been driven by genuine terror, the police said.
So far, there is no direct evidence linking the victims — who were mainly farmers, Muslim teachers and elderly women — to the practice of witchcraft, which is not illegal in Indonesia.
While some of those arrested were bit players caught in the hysteria of a bloodthirsty crowd, the police said that many suspects were connected to a well-organized syndicate that for a fee cleverly engineered murders to look like witch hunts.
»Many of these were premeditated murders arranged by a network of experienced witch hunters who preyed on the fears of ordinary citizens and convinced them to kill, » said Agus Nugroho, Cianjur’s senior police inspector. »This case shows just how real black magic is in the minds of the people of this region. »
Mr. Agus said that for about $100 syndicate gangs would persuade someone in a village to accuse the targeted person of being a witch. Once the village became convinced that there was a witch in its midst, the gang carried out the killing, usually with the help of townspeople who had been whipped into a frenzy.
Typically, the witch-hunting syndicate found clients in local businessmen seeking to get rid of competitors and candidates for village offices who sought to eliminate political opponents, the police said.
People with grudges or seeking an early inheritance also contracted with the syndicate.
At least 2 of the 21 victims were casualties of a highly competitive local election. In September, two men who were candidates for administrative chief of the local mosque in Hegar Sari in southern Cianjur were suddenly branded as witches and killed, the police said.
Of the 24 suspects now in custody, the police said, a pivotal role in the witch hunts was played by Apih Barma, a 53-year-old farmer and part-time healer. He was the man who judged whether or not a person was in fact a witch.
For 50,000 rupiah, or about 50 cents, Mr. Barma administered what the police called a »medical » test to determine if a person was a black magic practitioner. They said Mr. Barma had effectively condemned to death many of the people brought before him by declaring them witches. He has been charged with practicing medicine without a license.
In an interview at the Cianjur jail where is being held, Mr. Barma said that he was innocent and that he knew nothing of a network to frame people as witches.
Mr. Barma, who has spiky hair and a fixed, piercing stare, at first admitted to administering the witch test to dozens of people brought to him by local community leaders. He said the test consisted of reading from the Koran and observing how the accused reacted. Later in the interview, Mr. Barma denied that there was any witch testing and said that he simply read scriptures to try to free people under the sway of the devil.
»I didn’t give any instructions or permission for anyone to be killed, » Mr. Barma said. »Those people who were killed died because they were witches and deserved it. »
In these poor and undeveloped areas of Indonesia, where education and medical care are scarce, people are prone to believe in the power of supernatural forces to influence sickness and health.
A person can be branded a witch by being the last to have contact with someone who fell ill or suddenly died. Even common ailments like rashes, allergies and the flu are attributed to black magic. In some instances, healers are accused of being witches if they fail to rid clients of disease.
Cianjur residents recount, with evident belief, stories of people vomiting nails, snakes and paper clips, and of bloated stomachs the size of giant balloons that cause people to float around a room.
In the case of Jumsih Canak, her problems began in early September when she tried to do a good deed by feeding her sick neighbor a piece of fish. The neighbor’s condition worsened and she eventually died.
Other villagers recalled becoming ill after contact with Mrs. Jumsih, and she was labeled a witch. Five men stormed her house and severed her head with machetes, the police said.
Witch hunters are considered heroic in most villages because they rid the community of evil forces. When the police first began detaining and questioning suspects in the killings, local residents staged huge protests demanding that the suspects be freed.
In one case, villagers overpowered several police officers and held them hostage until the suspects were released.
Hiday, a 36-year-old farmer who is also being held at the Cianjur prison, said in an interview that he had taken part in the killing of three witches in southern Cianjur, which he said was overrun with witches who had cast »evil spells » on many people there.
»The only way to get rid of witches is to kill them, » he said. Before going on a witch hunt, Mr. Hiday said, he and his colleagues would prepare themselves psychologically.
»It’s hard work killing a witch, but you just have to keep telling yourself over and over again that they are evil and that you are helping to save innocent people from their curses and spells, » he said.
Tu Bagus Ronny Nitibaskara, a University of Indonesia anthropologist, said witch killing in the region dates back centuries, at least as far back as the Dutch colonization of the islands that eventually became Indonesia. Although legally unjustifiable, the witch killing has long served as a mechanism for rural villages to expunge antisocial behavior.
Asked why witch killings are so sadistic, Mr. Nitibaskara said: »They are killed in such a savage way because people believe that they are witches and that they can come back to life. That is why they separate the head from the body or chop the body into pieces. »
Abdul Halim, chief of Cianjur’s Council of Islamic Teachers, said that although Islam forbids the belief in and practice of black magic, many pre-Islamic traditions and superstitions are widely followed in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.
Mr. Halim said that while a lack of education led many people to believe in witchcraft, many well-educated people also dabbled in the spiritual world.
According to persistent reports he has never denied, President Abdurrahman Wahid regularly consults spiritualists, as do many prominent Indonesian political and social figures.
Even among the educated class in Indonesia, black magic is often a convenient explanation for one’s own shortcomings.
A senior government official whose house was recently ransacked and robbed by his domestic help said that his workers had been hypnotized and ordered to steal by a witch hired by the political opposition. Close friends of the official said the workers had robbed his house because he had refused to pay them the customary year-end bonus.
»My greatest fear is that this trend will spread to other regions of Indonesia, » Mr. Halim said of the use of witch hunts as a cover for murder or threatening to identify people as witches to squeeze money from them. »You must understand that rural villagers who are not very educated are very easily provoked and moved by rumors so we must combat people using witchcraft for extortion. »
The police said they have some leads as to who is behind the syndicate but are still searching for the organizers.
Tehuacan Journal; Back of the New Mall, Age-Old Ritual of Slaughter
November 1, 1993
Past the Nissan dealership and Tehuacan Ford, just beyond the pastel-colored tract homes going up on the edge of town, the Slaughter of the Goats has begun again.
As they have at every harvest, the goatherds have brought their animals over the Oaxaca mountains to this market town, and the matanceros, the butchers, have come from the nearby village of San Gabriel Chilac. Each day for two weeks, or as long as the herd might last, they will fill the courtyard of an old hacienda here with an ancient ritual of blood and death.
On the first and last mornings of the slaughter, there is still a dance — dancing the goat, the Indians call it. And each afternoon, as the intestines hang from clotheslines and boys with wheelbarrows cart away the severed heads, the goat killers rise up on their knees as their fathers did, to pray at their chopping blocks for the Lord’s protection.
But almost four centuries after it took root in what were then still known as « the lands of the chieftains, » the Matanza, as the ritual is called in Spanish, has taken on an air of uncertainty. Some of the dancers have begun to forget their steps, and no one seems to remember why one of them holds a flaming chalice toward the sky. Some in the courtyard say that this might be the last Matanza, or that at most there might be a few more.
Guns Are Now Used
It has been six or seven years since the matanceros could slash the necks of a thousand goats each day and let them stagger about the patio bleeding until they died. Because of the protests of animal-rights campaigners in Mexico City, 158 miles to the northwest, the killing is now done with guns, thick black livestock pistols that leave neat holes in the goats’ heads.
Bloody as it remains, the business seems less violent to the men than that of the rustlers who come out from the poppy and marijuana fields not far from where the goats are pastured. The rustlers carry assault rifles now; in a raid this spring, they shot two of the goatherds and left one of them dead.
« We just do this to keep from giving up, » says Inigo Garcia Peralta, a Huajuapan rancher who has brought his goats to Tehuacan (pronounced tay-wah-KAHN) for the last 44 of his 70 years. « We don’t make money any more. And what is it worth if they kill you? »
No one asks directly whether the ritual ought to continue right behind the new domed shopping mall, in a town that is trying to change its image, in a country that wants a free-trade agreement with Canada and the United States.
The challenge is more complicated than that.
There is the transport tax that the ranchers must pay because there is no longer enough open land to herd the goats from Oaxaca to Tehuacan, so they come by truck. There is sales tax on the meat and skins, income tax on any profits and bribes to pay some of the health inspectors and highway police.
The Only One Left
More important, goat-loin mole now costs about $10 a plate, more than poor people can afford for the spicy dish they have always eaten after the Matanza. Years ago, almost 100,000 goats were killed in a half a dozen slaughters in Tehuacan and the Oaxacan town of Huajuapan de Leon. Now, Mr. Garcia’s slaughter is the only one left, and he will be lucky to kill and sell 6,000 goats.
There is little record of the history of the slaughter, and some dispute over the prevalent notion that it supplanted rituals of human sacrifice that existed here before the Spaniards brought their goats and stockmen’s guilds to the New World. But to view the slaughter as a way to butcher goat meat would seem to ignore the intensity and seeming symbolism of what takes place.
At the beginning, hooves scrape across the cement patio as young men drag the goats from their pens in twos, a horn in either fist. They swarm around the captains, men in coarse aprons and cowboy hats, and the captains drop their arms quickly, firing between the goats’ eyes.
Older men wearing only shorts and T-shirts reach down and drive their knives into the goats’ chests. Women with plastic buckets rush up to catch the blood, and the old men help them, holding the goats over their pails. Frenzy Yields to Order
The younger men carry the animals away, dumping them across the patio in twitching piles of horns and legs and stained fur. For a while, the only sounds are the clacking and popping of the black guns and the thud of the goats being dropped on straw mats.
After a while, the frenzy gives way to an almost mechanical order. The least experienced men move across a first row of mats, carving off tails and ears. Behind them, the more expert butchers set to the harder work, scoring the bellies of the goats and then digging their bare heels beneath the skin to pull it off whole. For a long time, they say almost nothing to one another. When they do, it is in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and other Indian peoples of central Mexico.
‘This Is Nothing’
On the patio’s edge, a 69-year-old woman named Fermina Romero de Rojas watched the carnage the other day and was unimpressed.
« This is nothing, » said the woman, who had come from nearby San Gabriel Chilac. « Each of us used to do 100, 150 heads every day. You did not have time to eat or sleep. »
Beside Mrs. Rojas, her husband, Eusebio Rojas, 71, watched quietly.
« Before, they did not clean anything, » he said after a while. « There wasn’t any cement. It was the earth, and the earth consumed the blood. »
The Timor Enigma
September 8, 1999
As international pressure mounted on Indonesia today to halt a continuing surge of violence in East Timor, analysts here were stumped by two fundamental questions: who is orchestrating the carnage and why?
The crisis in East Timor comes against the backdrop of a broader crisis of leadership in Indonesia. The central Government is weak and fragmented as politicians fight over the presidential succession, and the once-powerful military has become hesitant, angry and divided. All around the country feuds and fiefs are creating local policy.
What is clear in East Timor is that irregular militias backed by the Indonesian military are carrying out an organized campaign of terror that involves widespread killings, arson and the forced evacuation of tens of thousands from the remote territory of 800,000 people.
Less clear is what the campaign is meant to achieve and what degree of control the Government in Jakarta has over the people waging it. Those are key questions as the United Nations and a number of foreign countries seek to put pressure on Indonesia to bring the violence to an end.
Last week, the people of East Timor voted by 78.5 percent for independence from Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and has fought against separatist guerrillas there ever since.
That vote, organized by the United Nations, is now, as one diplomat put it, »part of history. » It is unclear whether the current violence is an attempt somehow to turn back history, to seek some sort of bargaining power in a new East Timor, to send a warning to other separatist movements or simply to wreak vengeance. Several of these elements may be involved, but none seem to explain fully what is going on.
It is also unclear whether the policy, whatever it is, was ordered by the armed forces chief, Gen. Wiranto, or whether it was the work of military elements in East Timor that have rampaged beyond his control.
General Wiranto is in a tenuous position as he seeks to lead the military toward reforms that reduce its power and privileges at a time of dangerous instability in Indonesia. Some analysts say he may find it difficult to bring to heel the entrenched units that have had their way in East Timor for 24 years.
If General Wiranto is in fact commanding the campaign of violence, he would be undermining the policy of President B. J. Habibie, who offered the East Timorese their freedom early this year. That sudden shift in policy was deeply unpopular among many in the military.
With an electoral assembly scheduled to choose the next President later this fall, Mr. Habibie’s East Timor policy could cost him the potentially decisive political backing of the armed forces for a new term in office.
Convinced that Jakarta does have the power to halt the violence if it is pressed hard enough, Australia announced on Tuesday that it had dispatched two warships with 500 troops to the waters off East Timor with the intention of leading a peacekeeping force if Indonesia agrees to its presence.
On the diplomatic front, a five-member delegation from the Security Council arrived here today to press for quick action. In New York, the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said on Tuesday that Indonesia had 48 hours to show that it could control the situation. If not, he said, »the international community will have to consider what other measures it can take to assist the Indonesian Government in meeting its obligations. »
Realistically, though, the options of the international community are extremely limited. It is most unlikely that any military action will be taken without Jakarta’s consent — and that consent is also most unlikely.
And any economic sanctions would jeopardize hopes for the recovery here that foreign nations have worked so desperately to foster.
Though the carnage in East Timor arouses moral outrage, the territory is a tiny one with little international importance. Any intervention on its behalf must be weighed against the costs to relations with Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, with more than 200 million people.
In his warning, Mr. Annan was referring to Indonesia’s announcement on Tuesday that it was imposing martial law on East Timor, which has descended into chaos since it voted for independence. Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said the decree included »the shooting on sight of people who go against the curfew, »
If the military cracks down now on the violence, it will be cracking down on a campaign that it instigated and that is being controlled now by at least some of its own elements.
The militias that are carrying out the carnage were created by the military early this year in an evident attempt to skew or derail the vote through violence and intimidation. Until election day, that plan seemed straightforward enough.
But suddenly and inexplicably the militias backed off. On the day of the vote, East Timor became an island of peace, with virtually no attempt made to disrupt the vote. Once the voting was complete, no one tried to steal the ballot boxes. And during five days of vote counting in an unguarded building, no attempt was made to spoil the process.
If this was a real attempt to derail the vote, one diplomat said, it seemed a rather halfhearted one.
But as soon as the result was announced last Saturday, the militias took heart again, initiating a rampage of terror that has continued for four days. They have intimidated most foreign journalists, aid workers and election observers into fleeing the territory and on Tuesday even the Roman Catholic Bishop, Carlos Belo, whose residence was burned on Monday, fled to Australia.
They have been rounding up tens of thousands of residents and trucking them across the border into West Timor, which is part of Indonesia. The International Committee for the Red Cross said refugees were pouring across the border on Tuesday at the rate of 3,000 an hour.
But why? This is not ethnic cleansing; ethnic conflicts are not a key part of the East Timorese dynamic. And with four out of five East Timorese voting for independence, it seemed futile to try to expel all independence supporters.
There is speculation here that the anti-independence forces could be hoping to create an Indonesian enclave within a new East Timorese nation, but this theory too seemed inadequate to explain the tactics of the militias.
Despite the declaration of martial law, residents of the capital, Dili, reported that the violence and terror were continuing.
»The situation here in the United Nations compound is deteriorating very rapidly, » said Tjitske Lingsma, a Dutch journalist who has remained in Dili, speaking by telephone on Tuesday evening. »The whole city is being destroyed and houses are being looted. The situation is getting worse and worse. »