Headlines

Shiite followers from Madura
live in fear

At least 23 Shiite followers from Sampang, Madura, in East Java, have been forced to lead a nomadic life after an anti-Shiite group threatened to kill them and burn their homes.

The 22 followers and their Shiite community leader Tajul Muluk were evicted from Nangkernang hamlet, Karam Gayam village, Omben district, Sampang, after an arson attack on Dec. 29 last year.

They sometimes stay in Surabaya, Pasuruan and Malang and live off of donations. Two of Tajul’s children cannot attend school due to the situation.

Tajul’s other followers, who were allowed to return home, said they were in a state of distress because they often received death threats.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post in Surabaya on Friday, Tajul said that his mother had also received threats from members of an anti-Shiite group that their homes would be burned when she returned to Nangkernang village to see her family.

Members from the Omben Police station were still guarding the homes vacated by Tajul’s relatives as of Friday.

The advocacy team from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) expressed in Surabaya on Thursday that the manner in which the judicial system had dealt with the arson attack and eviction cases against the Shiite minority community in Sampang regency, East Java, was discriminative.

Based on Kontras’ findings, the Sampang regency and East Java provincial administrations have not taken action to resolve the issue. Intimidations and threats from anti-Shiite groups against Shiite followers still continue.

“What makes matters worse is that elements from the regional administration have not made any effort to solve the issue. Some officials have even been involved in the discrimination,” said Surabaya Kontras coordinator Andy Irfan.

The police, added Andy, had only questioned suspect Musrika, who is not believed to be the main perpetrator in the vandalism and arson attack on Tajul’s property.

Tajul, who was the victim of the arson attack and eviction in December, was questioned by the East Java Police on March 6 on charges of blasphemy and objectionable acts.

The Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) was also regarded as slow to respond to Surabaya Kontras’ request that Tajul and 22 of his followers be included in the witness and victim protection program.

Andy Irfan said that besides being disappointed with the East Java Police’s response to Tajul’s dilemma, Kontras was also dissatisfied with the LPSK, which had failed to respond to the request to place Tajul in the protection scheme, despite that the request was made in January.

According to Andy, Tajul and his followers are entitled to LPSK protection, but the LPSK claim that it is still waiting for a plenary meeting before deciding on the matter. The LPSK questioned Tajul and his followers in mid-February, but has not taken action since.

Andy said that he would file for a request for the protection scheme to LPSK again, this time for Hani and Umi, Tajul’s sister and mother, who would testify at the Sampang District Court on March 14.

According to Andy, there was a distinct possibility that the court trial would be disrupted by anti-Shiite groups, as the trial would hear defendant Musrikah, who allegedly vandalized and set fire to Tajul’s house and religious school complex.

“We will send another request for the witness and victim protection scheme for both of them immediately,” Andy said.

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