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Jakarta Post

'€˜Deradicalization'€™ for Gafatar

  • Hans Nicholas Jong

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, January 23 2016 | 06:00 pm

The government is setting up a program aimed at '€œderadicalizing'€ members of the Fajar Nusantara Movement ( Gafatar ) in order to reintegrate them back into their respective communities across the country.

The Coordinating Human Development and Culture Ministry'€™s acting secretary-general, Agus Sartono, said that the government would instruct respective local authorities to provide shelter for former members of Gafatar before progressing with the counselling program.

'€œThe Home Ministry, together with the police, will urge regional governments to accept [returning Gafatar members]. The Culture and Education Ministry will make sure they have access to education, while the Religious Affairs Ministry will issue a letter to regional religious affairs agencies to make sure they have access to madrasa,'€ Agus said in a press briefing following a closed-door meeting between the National Police, the Indonesian Military ( TNI ) and government agencies on Friday.

Agus said that the government would also take efforts to ensure that former Gafatar members were accepted back into their communities in spite of perceptions that the organization is heretical.

'€œWe will also wait for a fatwa from the Indonesian Ulema Council [MUI] because this organization has been spreading deviant teachings and must be put back on the straight and narrow,'€ he said.

The MUI is currently looking into Gafatar-related evidence, including by holding discussions with religious leaders in areas including Yogyakarta, Palembang in South Sumatra and Aceh.

The MUI'€™s fatwa division is expected to make a formal announcement in February as to whether Gafatar is a heretical movement.

The government will also take measures to protect followers of Gafatar. Next week, the Indonesian Navy will dispatch three warships to transport Gafatar members back to their hometowns in Central Java after they were violently forced out of their homes by a mob in Mempawah regency, West Kalimantan, amid media controversy surrounding the group.

'€œThey have to return to their respective hometowns. We will convince them that they can lead normal lives. Of course this won'€™t be easy because they already have misguided thinking and principles. But we have to fix this. We don'€™t want them to stay there [in West Kalimantan], where they will continue to draw the ire of the local populace,'€ Agus said.

Gafatar spokesperson Wisnu Windani meanwhile said there was nothing wrong with the organization.

According to Wisnu, members of the organization, which was banned by the Home Ministry in 2012, subsequently moved to West Kalimantan to engage in farming.

'€œWe don'€™t bother anyone, let alone engage in terrorism. What have we done wrong?'€ demanded Wisnu.

The Social Affairs Ministry'€™s director general for social protection and security, Andi ZA Dulung, said there was reason to believe that Gafatar had big plans for the future.

'€œThey moved [to West Kalimantan] not to engage in farming, but to create a new community. They'€™re not poor people,'€ he said on Friday.

Andi said the government would also comb through the data of Gafatar members to see if there was any leaders of the group among the evictees.

'€œWe will separate between leaders and victims. The victims will be returned [to their homes] and there will go through the deradicalization program. Meanwhile, the leaders will be subjected to a legal process,'€ he said. '€œIf an organization has been banned but continues to operate, its leaders must accept that they will be punished. Clearly someone has been the brains behind the operations.'€

Members of Gafatar, some of whom hail from cities in Java and Sulawesi, are being sheltered in military barracks in Kubu Raya regency, West Kalimantan, after being forced out of neighboring Mempawah.

According to data from the Home Ministry, there are at least 1,611 Gafatar members in the barracks, with 712 of them native to East Java, 276 to Yogyakarta, 247 to West Java, 145 to Central Java, 90 to Jakarta and four to Banten.

Others hail from areas outside Java, including 99 from Riau, 13 from Medan, eight from Riau Islands, four from West Sumatra, Lampung and West Kalimantan, three from Central Kalimantan and two from South Sulawesi and Aceh.

Data from the government also shows that there are at least 622 children and 20 pregnant women among those staying in the temporary shelters.

'€œWe will give them money as soon as they disembark from the ships. We are planning to give them around Rp 300,000 [per household],'€ Andi said.

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