Children of Gafatar receive counseling
Ganug Nugroho Adi
The Jakarta Post
Many of the children who were among the 354 members of the Fajar Nusantara Movement (Gafatar) that arrived at the Donohudan haj dormitory in Boyolali, Central Java, on Monday looked happy when counselors offered them toys.
They were soon engrossed in the various toys ranging from puzzles and yo-yos to dolls, toy cars and balls, promptly forgetting their fatigue after their long journey from West Kalimantan.
'It's fun here. We had no toys in our new house [in the Gafatar compound in West Kalimantan]. We just slept at home,' said one of the children, 8-year-old Maya.
Ahmad Rifai, 10, also appeared happy as he played with a coloring book and pencils he had received from the counselors. He said he could not draw or write while in West Kalimantan because there was no school there.
Rifai said he and some other children his age did receive lessons but there was no classroom. They studied under a tree, with a neighbor as teacher.
'Sometimes we studied math, sometimes Indonesian, but we did not study every day,' he said.
Rifai was previously a fourth-grader at an elementary school in Wonogiri, Central Java. He had to drop out of school six months ago to follow his parents to the Gafatar compound in Mempawah, West Kalimantan.
Widya, 8, who hails from Yogyakarta, told the same story. She had to quit school when her parents took her to join the Gafatar members. She was a third grader before leaving for Kalimantan.
'I was sad because I could no longer be together with my friends and could not go to school. I want to go back to school,' she said.
The children were among 2,000 Gafatar members who were forcibly evicted from their homes by a mob in Mempawah last week.
Police and military officers evacuated them as their residential and agricultural complex was besieged by thousands of angry local residents.
The residents destroyed and burned down the houses after they were abandoned. A car belonging to one of Gafatar members was also set on fire.
The residents reportedly became angry after news reports circulated about missing Gafatar members and linked the group to Al-Qiyadah al-Islamiyah, which was founded by Ahmad Mussadeq.
Mussadeq, who reportedly claimed to be a new prophet, was sentenced to four years in jail by the South Jakarta District Court in 2008 for blasphemy.
Gafatar executives repeatedly denied that their organization was related to or based on any religion, but rather the state ideology Pancasila.
Gafatar had reportedly run a home schooling program called Sekolah Berbasis Rumah (home-based school) in their chapter offices across the country before the organization dissolved itself in August 2015.
The Home Ministry rejected an extension of Gafatar's permit in November, 2012.
After the disbandment, many members migrated to Kalimantan to engage in communal farming.
Leader of the psychiatric team for Gafatar members Hastaning Sakti said that the children's mental state was relatively good, but they were extremely tired due to their long journey.
She said the children were in need of counseling to help them restore their emotional equilibrium, especially after witnessing their homes being burned.
Imam Setiawan of Diponegoro University's Family Empowerment Center (PPK) said the children needed counseling to help them feel comfortable in their new environment.
'They need a few days to adapt themselves to their new environment,' he said.
The condition of the children moved the commander of the Military Resort Command (Korem) 074/Warastratama, Col. Arhanud Toto Nugroho, to plan to send a team of psychologists to help the children regain their spirit to return to school.
The Sebelas Maret University (UNS) has also prepared a team of psychologists and will establish a post to offer counseling to former Gafatar members for at least six months.
Chairman of the psychology study program of the UNS' School of Medicine, Hardjono, said that Gafatar members might be traumatized and in need of counseling through a crisis center.
'The burning of their houses, their being evicted by locals could be a trigger. They also may have anxieties that they may not be accepted in their places of origin,' said Hardjono, adding that such trauma needed special psychological handling.
* 2000: Al-Qiyadah al-Islamiyah founded by Abdussalam, also known as Ahmad Mussadeq, in Gunung Sari, Bogor
* July 23, 2006: Mussadeq declares himself a Muslim prophet, replacing Prophet Muhammad, after what he claims to have been 40 days of meditation at Gunung Bunder, Bogor
* Oct. 4, 2007: MUI announces that Al-Qidayah al-Islamiyah is blasphemous and urges government to ban sect
* April 23, 2008: South Jakarta District Court sentences Mussadeq to four years in prison for blaspheming Islam
* Jan. 21, 2012: Fajar Nusantara Movement (Gafatar) is launched in JIExpo Kemayoran, Central Jakarta
* Nov. 20, 2012: Government orders disbandment of Gafatar, based on Home Ministerial Decree No. 220/2012
* June 2015: Banda Aceh District Court sentences six Gafatar leaders to three to four years in jail for defaming Islam. Court says convicts defamed Islam, as they acknowledged their spiritual leader, Mussadeq, as a messiah.
* Aug. 13, 2015: Gafatar is dissolved
* Dec. 30, 2015: Gafatar in spotlight after disappearance of physician Rica Tri Handayani and her child from Yogyakarta.
* Jan. 15, 2016: As many as 54 people from different regions across Central Java are reported missing by their respective families and are feared to be linked to Gafatar
* Jan. 19, 2016: Unidentified group of people burn down Gafatar camp in Monton Panjang area, Mempawah regency, West Kalimantan. Local authorities evacuate 796 people
* Jan. 22, 2016: Government sets up program aimed at 'deradicalizing' members of Gafatar in order to reintegrate them back into their respective communities across the country
* Jan. 23, 2016: Hundreds of members of Gafatar start returning to their respective hometowns
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