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Jakarta Post

Police hunt for instigators of '€˜religious strife'€™ in Papua

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 23, 2014   /  08:58 am

The police had identified and were currently hunting the instigators of a recent clash between Christians and Muslims in Sorong, West Papua, which left three people injured with arrow wounds, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said.

The police chief said the clash was triggered by the beating last Friday of a man, identified as Haji Soleh Johar, who was on his way to a mosque for dawn prayers. The incident was used by a pro-independence group to wreak havoc in the region, he said.

'€œWe are searching for [Haji'€™s] assailant. He belongs to a group that wants to gain Papua'€™s independence by pitting Muslims and Christians against one another,'€ Sutarman said on the sidelines of an event at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.

He called on the public in Papua and West Papua provinces to not allow itself to be provoked by the recent incident. '€œWe have explained everything to the public to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future,'€ Sutarman added.

'€œThe people there do want to be divided along [religious or ethnic lines].'€

Friday'€™s incident was followed by a clash on Monday between the victim'€™s relatives and friends and a group of people who supported the perpetrator.

Three people, two civilians and a soldier, were wounded in the skirmish and rushed to a military hospital in Sorong for treatment. As of Monday evening, the situation in the city had been brought under control.

Previously, West Papua Legislative Council (DPRD) deputy speaker Jimmy Demianus Idjie had urged the police to take stern measures against the instigators of the clash, saying that he believed there was a larger scheme '€” to turn a criminal case into one resonating with religious nuance '€” behind the incident, as most people lived peacefully in Sorong.

Cenderawasih Regional Military Command (Kodam) chief Maj. Gen. Christian Zebua called on people to remain calm, adding that he was aware that some people were trying to use the recent incidents to stir religious and tribal conflicts.

'€œI have received a brief message that contains very provocative information, which is entirely false,'€ Christian said as quoted by Antara.

'€œNo mosque or church was destroyed in the clash. The information was false,'€ he asserted.

He also urged the media to act responsibly, so that the public could obtain the facts about what really took place in Sorong.

'€œWe hope the incident will not disrupt the Sail Raja Ampat event, which is being held in West Papua. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is also scheduled to attend the event in Raja Ampat,'€ Christian remarked, adding that the clash had no connection with the Sail Raja Ampat event.

Sorong Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Harry Goldenhart said officials from the city administration along with respected religious figures and those from the community and a number of young people had joined forces to prevent tensions in the city from escalating.

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