No looking back: A woman sorts through trash at a garbage landfill at Ama Ori village, Ambon municipality. Some 90 percent of the villagers augment their income by scavenging garbage.
As many as 29 families displaced by communal violence taking shelter at Paso, Maluku, may at last have the prospect of moving to a permanent settlement soon, following a reported financial pledge by the Jesuit Refugee Service.
“The land will be paid for by the Jesuit Refugee Service. The European Union [EU], through Hivos and Baileo [Maluku NGOs], is going to provide grants for the construction of the houses,” Muamar Vebry, project officer for the EU’s reconstruction program in Maluku, said.
The enclave for permanent settlement is located at Air Baru about 4 kilometers from Paso.
The refugees, or internally displaced persons (IDPs), had been complaining about the lack of affordable land, saying that the resettlement fund from the government was not enough to pay for land.
“It should be the government’s responsibility to provide us with land,” Samuel Cololuan, the community’s leader, said when meeting with the EU and its media entourage.
The residents, who come from Kayeli, Seram and Haruku, have to endure living in very basic conditions in their current shelter camp, which used to be the log-piling barns of a plantation company.
They had been roaming from one shelter to another until they settled there in 2007.
Life in the barns, which are divided into several family rooms and where 14 babies have since been born, is far from ideal with cold weather and mosquitoes at night and heat during the day.
The supply of clean water is also a problem with the residents dependent either on old dank wells
or having to walk 200 meters to fetch cleaner water. They also complain about the lack of government medical care, particularly during childbirth.
“We hope we will have no problem with clean water at our new settlement,” Kristanti Duparlila said.
The fact that some displaced people are still dwelling in shelters like those in Paso seems to make a mockery of local government claims that the displacement issue has already been resolved.
“All displaced people have been looked after. The problem of displacement has already been settled, the Rp 16 billion [US$1.74 million] fund from central government was returned. The only work left for us is how to empower those people,” Ambon Mayor Richard Louhenapessy said, calling the 1999 conflict a humanitarian tragedy.
Christian Tulkoy said refugees from the 1999-2002 conflict did not exist anymore. “What we have now are those from more recent clashes,” he said.
The Maluku Refugees’ Coalition (KPM) revealed that a verification team formed in 2010 found that over 3,000 families were still displaced.
“They need their rights as refugees protected,” said KPM chief Piet Pattiwaellapia.
According to the data, the IDPs are scattered throughout Central Maluku (1105 families), West Seram (686), East Seram (91), Western Southeast Maluku (67), Buru Island (290), Ambon municipality (1360) and North Maluku (26).
The deputy minister for the Development of Special Regions at the Ministry for the Disadvantaged Regions, Suprayoga Hadi, has pointed out the need to address the post-conflict situation in several regions, including Maluku.
“The role of a multi stakeholder forum is important to promote a unified approach in dealing with the long-term development of conflict-affected areas as well as on conflict mitigation and prevention,” he said.
The Indonesian government and the EU organized a national workshop on “Sustainable Peace and Development” in Ambon to seek ways to improve coordination and collaboration between affected groups, nongovernmental organizations and several decision makers at all levels of public administration.
The KPM has criticized the government for what it calls its slow response in dealing with the reconstruction program for displaced people, partly due to the government’s different perception of refugees compared to that of the KPM.
“The government views displaced people brought about by conflicts from the security perspective,” Piet said.
“They may say Maluku is already secure, while in fact they have not thought it through thoroughly, especially about the impact of conflict on families,” he said.
“The government is always saying the refugee problem in Maluku is over. I presume that’s only a pretext by the local administration to save face with the central government. The fact is that there are people who have not had their rights as refugees respected,” he added.
Major incidents and peace efforts in Maluku
Jan. 19, 1999:
The beating of a Christian passenger by a group of bus crew members in Batu Merah, Ambon, triggers a mass brawl.
March 9, 1999:
A special military team meets the reconciliation team, both agreeing that building a feeling of security is an initial step toward peace.
April 8, 1999:
A humanitarian team consisting of 18 Ambonese and Jakarta citizens of southeast Maluku descent is sent to the riot locations.
May 12, 1999:
Religious leaders, community and traditional leaders, youth figures and local organization leaders sign a peace declaration at the Merdeka Field in Ambon.
Dec. 3, 1999:
National Police chief Gen. Roesmanhadi meets with 60 Ambonese community leaders living in Jakarta. The meeting agrees to form an Ambon Peace Task Force that will be sent to Ambon.
Dec. 26, 1999:
The pivotal, major unrest known as “Bloody Christmas”, breaks out.
Jan. 25, 2000:
Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri says, during her visit to Maluku, that the government will take responsibility for all incidents in the ongoing conflict.
Feb. 22, 2000:
Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers leads a reconciliation meeting for Maluku at the Clingendael Institute, a research institute under the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Dutch government also donates 10 million guilders (US$3.81 million) as emergency funds for the victims of the conflict.
April 24, 2000:
At least 900 people comprising local elites and religious and community leaders launch a reconciliation effort aboard the Indonesian Navy’s KRI Arun warship.
June 23, 2000:
The Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), based in Tantui near Ambon, is attacked on land and at sea by rioters and rogue officers. Brimob deputy chief Maj. Edi Susanto is shot dead.
June 26, 2000:
President Abdurrahman Wahid imposes a state of civil emergency effective as of midnight that day on neighboring Maluku and North Maluku provinces. The state of emergency, based on Presidential Decree No. 88/2000, can be rescinded depending on the security situation.
July 1, 2000:
Armed mobs are involved in the mass attack and burning of the three neighboring villages of Poka, Rumah Tiga and Waai for three consecutive days. Waai village is eventually razed to the ground on July 6, 2001.
July 3, 2000:
Rioters burn and destroy the 30-hectare Pattimura University compound, including the port, gymnasium, library, place of worship and all facilities, causing some Rp 500 billion in material losses, in Ambon.
Dec. 8, 2000:
Around 200 of Maluku’s Muslim and Christian leaders meet in Yogyakarta to explore the possibility of reaching a reconciliation in riot-hit areas in Maluku. They agree to hold dialogue and establish peace zones (baku bae) in Ambon.
A series of bombings and shootings target, among other things, the MV Kalifornia and a speedboat in Ambon Bay, some 50 people are killed.
Dec. 31, 2001:
Coordinating Minister for Peoples’ Welfare Jusuf Kalla says he hopes that sectarian conflict can be resolved. A team formed to help settle the dispute will start working soon.
Jan. 17, 2002:
Ambon Mayor Yopy Papilaya and legislative council speaker Lucky Wattimury meet House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung and ask the House to urge the government to make serious efforts to resolve the conflict.
Jan. 25, 2002:
Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono states that North Maluku province will be returned to normal civil status.
Jan. 30, 2002:
Representatives of the warring parties attend a preliminary meeting held in Makassar. The result of this meeting will be discussed further in a grand meeting in Malino, Gowa regency, South Sulawesi to be held from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7.
Feb. 10, 2002:
Jusuf Kalla says the Maluku conflict must be stopped. There is no alternative but to end the dispute and let Ambon return to peace, he says.
Feb. 12, 2002:
Rival Maluku groups sign a peace accord that may end the three-year sectarian conflict that has claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced 70,000 others.
Source: The Jakarta Post