Minister says Gafatar leaders must be prosecuted
The Jakarta Post
Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani said on Thursday that the government should take legal action to follow up the recent Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) edict declaring the Fajar Nusantara Movement (Gafatar) a heretical organization.
The daughter of ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle Party (PDI-P) chief Megawati Soekarnoputri said that the National Police should bring former leaders of Gafatar to justice for spreading controversial teachings.
'There should not be generalization [regarding Gafatar members]. [The investigation] should clearly separate those who are ordinary followers, the victims, from those who are leaders,' Puan told The Jakarta Post after holding a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Thursday at the vice presidential palace.
The MUI declared the mass organization as heretical on Wednesday but called on the People not to spread prejudice or take action against members.
There has yet to be an official response from the government as a follow up to the edict, which is not legally binding. There is no obligation for the government to follow up the edict with formal regulation or legal action.
MUI chairman Ma'ruf Amin said the Gafatar movement had been close to treason as the group members had begun to move from their hometowns to Mempawah regency in West Kalimantan to start what they allegedly claimed to be a new state.
'We'll never tolerate such a mission because, for MUI, it is the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI] to which we have made our commitment. We will let the government handle the case,' Ma'ruf said during the edict announcement.
Gafatar hit the headlines when it was revealed that a number of people reported missing were found to have joined the group.
Thousands of people from across the country left their homes to join the group's community in Mempawah, the putative capital of Gafatar's caliphate, but were displaced after a mob ransacked and razed the community property on Jan. 19. Many of the members have now been returned to their respective hometowns.
Puan called on the Religious Affairs Ministry to purge the minds of Gafatar members, saying that they had been indoctrinated by Gafatar leaders and urged people across the country to welcome and nurture them during the rehabilitation period after their return.
Many Gafatar members deny that they had been forced by the group's leaders to leave their hometown to join the caliphate movement, saying that they moved to Mempawah because they wanted to develop an independent farming method away from home.
Human rights campaigners lambasted the government for evacuating Gafatar members from Mempawah instead of finding the perpetrators that had violated and ransacked the properties.
In response to the criticism, Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said that, if Gafatar members really wanted to continue their independent farming practice outside Java, the government would involve them in a transmigration program after they complete a re-education program.
Khofifah said that many of Gafatar's members had been returned to their homes, adding that the government did not provide extra security for them because it believed that people in their respective residents would welcome their return and would not harm them.
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