Shia community seeks protection from East Java administration
The Jakarta Post
Displaced Shia followers from Karanggayam and Bluuran villages in Sampang, Madura regency, have demanded East Java Governor Timur Soekarwo protect their rights after the Sampang regent approved their relocation out of Madura Island.
Accompanied by the Surabaya branch of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Shia representatives converged on the gubernatorial office in Surabaya on Wednesday, but Governor Soekarwo failed to meet them as he had a meeting with the House of Representatives members on a working visit. The Shia delegates were met by a people's welfare official.
'We wished to meet the governor to express our desire to return to our villages and our refusal to be relocated away from Madura,' Sampang Shiite refugee leader Iklil Al Milal told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Iklil denied that most residents of their villages were opposed to their presence, as has been claimed by a number of figures and clerics who have demanded they be relocated away from Madura because they are regarded as troublemakers.
As reported earlier, Sampang Regent Fannan Hasib agreed on May 7 to the demand by protesters to relocate the Shiites outside Madura.
In the meeting between the regent and protesters from religious and community circles, it was disclosed that the demand was in line with Fannan's promise to the protesters during the regency leadership election several weeks ago.
After being appointed in February this year, Fannan, who replaced Noer Tjahja as regent, asked the central government to approve the planned relocation of 300 Shiites in Madura to bring an end to the conflict in Sampang.
The conflict began on Dec. 29, 2011, when mobs set fire to a Shia boarding school in Nangkernang hamlet.
Another incident took place on Aug. 12, 2012, when around 200 people stormed a Shia settlement. At least two people were killed and 10 homes razed in the incident.
Ever since then, the Shiites have taken refuge at the Sampang sports complex. A suspect in the attack on Nangkernang hamlet, Rois al-Hukama, was acquitted by the Surabaya District Court on April 16.
The Shia leader in Madura, Tajul Muluk, is still in prison after the East Java High Court sentenced him to four years. Earlier, the Sampang District Court had found Tajul guilty of blasphemy.
Iklil said several groups were opposed to the Shiites and had made efforts to expel them from Madura. The groups had also pressured the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to issue an edict on heretical teachings against the Shia movement.
'We are being forced to leave Madura. Since May 1, food and clean water aid has stopped. As many as 166 Shiites are suffering in the shelter as of now,' said Iklil.
Coordinator of the Surabaya branch of Kontras Andy Irfan said his commission urged the government to immediately call on religious leaders to respect human rights.
'The state must not bow down to the wishes of a small group of self-righteous people who fail to heed human rights principles stipulated in the Constitution,' said Andy.
Contacted separately, Sunni community coordinator in Sampang Faturozi said the rejection of the Shiites issued by local clerics was irreversible and they continued to urge the regent to evict the Shiites.
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