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Govt to stop donations for Ahmadiyah refugees
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram
The government will stop donating rice to hundreds of followers of an Islamic sect taking refuge in shelters in West Nusa Tenggara for the past three years, an official said Monday.
The head of the province’s social services agency, Bachruddin, said the Social Services Ministry would only allocate the rice for victims of natural disasters, not for Ahmadiyah followers.
“Frankly, the ministry did not allocate rice for Ahmadiyah refugees this year. So we will stop the donations,” Bachruddin said in Mataram, adding the current stock of 35 tons of rice would instead be used in cases of natural disasters.
The government previously provided 9 to 12 tons of rice for 271 people from 57 families living in refugee shelters in Mataram and Central Lombok, after their homes were destroyed by other Muslims who considered the sect heretical.
“Last year we still had rice stocks for them, but not this year. It’s also because they’ve been taking refuge here for more than two years now. They can’t be categorized as refugees,” Bachruddin said.
To handle the matter, he went on, the social services agency was approaching communities where the sect’s followers came from, to try to persuade them to accept back the refugees.
He added the agency was also working with the Mataram and Central Lombok administrations to relocate the refugees to residential areas, and not colonies, as they used to live in.
“But some residents still reject the followers. The residents want them to uphold ‘real Islam’, while the refugees defend their beliefs,” Bachruddin said.
To date, 130 people from 37 families of Ahmadiyah refugees have been living in the Transito House in Mataram, after being forced from their homes in Ketapang hamlet, Gegerung village, Lingsar district in West Lombok, in February 2006. Another 19 people from 7 families have been living in the defunct Praya Hospital, Central Lombok, since they were expelled from their homes in Praya three years ago.
M. Jauzi, chairman of the provincial branch of Ahmadiyah, said his organization would leave the decision to stop the donations up to the government.
But he called on the government to return the refugees to their respective homes if they decided to press on with the decision to stop the donations, saying that “taking refuge is not the will of the Ahmadiyah followers”.
“We’ve frequently asked the government to return the refugees to their homes so they can work rather than live off of handouts,” he said.
Jauzi said his organization had sent a letter to the governor, asking the administration to resolve the issue quickly.
“In the latest developments, the provincial administration and religious affairs office said they would facilitate the refugees’ return home. But we’re still waiting,” he said.
Violence against Ahmadiyah followers is not isolated to the province.
In West Java, property owned by sect supporters have been vandalized. Attackers often use an edict issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council, which declared Ahmadiyah heretical, to justify the violence. Many moderate Muslims have decried the violence against the Ahmadiyah followers as a violation of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of religion and religious belief.