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Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta transgender Islamic boarding school shut down

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta | Fri, February 26 2016 | 09:32 am

A meeting between local administration officials and residents decided on Wednesday night to close down the Al Fatah Pesantren Waria ( Islamic boarding school for transgender students ) in Jagalan subdistrict, Banguntapan district, Yogyakarta.

The meeting, which was held at the Jagalan subdistrict hall, also agreed not to allow any religious activity at the school site.

'€œWe decided this based on security, order and people'€™s comfort,'€ Banguntapan district head Jati Bayu Broto, who was also the moderator of the meeting, told reporters on Thursday.

He said the decision was made after a meeting between Al Fatah management, security authorities, the Islamic Jihad Front ( FJI ) Yogyakarta and the local community.

Jati said each party was given the opportunity to speak, with Al Fatah represented by its leader Shinta Ratri and two friends, while the FJI was represented by Umar Said, who came to the meeting with scores of supporters.

After Umar Said conveyed his rejection of the existence of transgender people, he and his supporters left the meeting. The discussion then continued between the subdistrict administration and local residents.

The meeting was a follow-up to the FJI'€™s visit to Al Fatah on Friday, reportedly to learn about the school'€™s activities.

However, when the FJI arrived at Al Fatah, the school'€™s management was at the police station reporting a message allegedly sent by the FJI stating that it wanted to seal the site.

'€œResidents and the subdistrict authorities agreed to shut down the pesantren because it is located in a narrow housing complex and when it conducted activities, visitors parked their motorcycles on the road, disturbing people,'€ Jati said.

He added that the school did not have a license to operate and locals had complained about karaoke occurring late at night. It was also claimed that alcoholic drinks had once been found at the site.

Shinta Ratri was reluctant to meet journalists at the school, as were other transgender people living at the facility.

'€œI'€™m sorry, I am mentally tired. I want to calm down first,'€ Shinta told The Jakarta Post through a text message.

Aditia Arif Firmanto of the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute ( LBH Yogyakarta ), as Shinta'€™s lawyer, said that the meeting was not a dialogue but instead a judgment against the management of the school.

'€œNo clarification was made during the meeting as our client was not allowed to explain about the allegations surrounding the alcoholic drink, the late night karaoke activities and other disruptive activities at the pesantren,'€ Aditia said.

A lawyer with LBH Yogyakarta who attended the meeting secretly said that Shinta had raised her hand to ask for an opportunity to clarify the allegations but the moderator had not given her a chance to speak.

'€œIt'€™s also deplorable that the subdistrict invited Shinta to attend the meeting but asked her not to bring anyone from LBH Yogyakarta or other NGOs,'€ Aditia said.

He said the pesantren chose to stop its activities on advice from Shinta'€™s parents, not because of pressure from the FJI.

Former Jagalan subdistrict head Sholehuddin said the school never reported its activities to the subdistrict administration.

'€œBut so far there have been no reports about negative activities at the transgender pesantren. We would know if there were, because we had regular subdistrict apparatus meetings,'€ said Sholehuddin, who lives near the school.

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